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SC asks Comelec to submit party-list groups whose nominees were allowed to withdraw

The Supreme Court (SC) has required the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to submit a list of the party-list groups whose nominees were allowed to withdraw all at the same time.

“Comelec, please submit to the Solicitor General the complete list of party-list who allowed their nominee to withdraw all at the same time," Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo told Comelec chairperson George Garcia on Tuesday's resumption of oral arguments on the petition challenging the substitution of former Comelec commissioner Ma. Rowena Guanzon. 

The petition was filed by Duterte Youth to the SC questioning Guanzon’s substitution as the P3PWD party-list nominee.

“In this case, the proclamation was done by the Comelec and that proclamation was the subject of the petition before the Comelec. The resolution issued by the Comelec, allowing the withdrawals of the other nominees and accepting the nomination of petitioner Guanzon,” SC Associate Justice Honorable Jhosep Lopez asked Assistant Solicitor General Maria Victoria Sardillo. 

Sardillo, however, cleared that the proclamation is not the issue but rather the withdrawal and substitution. 

She noted that the withdrawals were due to personal reasons. Still, unfortunately, there were “no further elaborations on what those personal reasons are.” 

During the first oral arguments, Sardillo denied that Comelec committed grave abuse of discretion when it granted the withdrawal and substitution of the nominees of the P3PWD, saying it underwent the correct process. 

Gesmundo also told Comelec's Garcia to call the attention of Congress to amend certain provisions in Republic Act No. 7941 or the Party-list System Act to plug the gaps in substitutions.

“You do realize the gaps in the law, particularly the party-list system. I think it’s time for you to call the attention of the Congress to amend the laws necessary so that issues can be avoided and the real purpose of the party-list system is actually achieved,“ Gesmundo said. 

To which, Garcia responded, “We have been asking Congress to amend the Republic Act 7941. We will be drafting the rules for the 2025 election for the party-list and hopefully, we will be guided as far as the issue of substitution and other requirements pertaining to Republic Act 7941.” 

In November 2023, the OSG appealed to the SC to junk the said petition. 

In June 2022, the high court issued a decision temporarily stopping a Comelec resolution allowing Guanzon to substitute as the number one nominee of the P3PWD party-list.

The Comelec previously approved in a "majority vote" the request of the party to withdraw the nomination of its original roster of five nominees.

The en banc has also "given due course" or granted and approved the new list of nominees that named Guanzon as its first nominee, and four others as the second to the fifth nominees.

The Duterte Youth petition asked the SC to nullify the Comelec resolution allowing the substitution, saying there was grave abuse of discretion. —LDF, GMA Integrated News