MS 30th Anniversary XXX

Senior citizens seek court relief

A party-list group that was disqualified by the Commission on Elections sought relief from the Supreme Court after garnering significant number of votes. The Senior Citizens party-list filed an extremely very urgent petition seeking issuance of a temporary restraining order against the last-minute resolution of the Comelec canceling its registration for earlier violation of public policy on term sharing. “Unless Comelec shall be restrained, grave, severe, serious and irreparable damages would befall herein petitioner and would disenfranchise about eight million senior citizens in the Philippines,” the group appealed in the 44-page petition filed through lawyer Romeo Manalo. Partial and unofficial tallies from the transparency server of Comelec showed the Senior Citizens placing 10th in the party-list elections with almost 500,000 votes as of yesterday morning. Republic Act No. 7941 (Party-List System Act) provides that a participating group should be given one seat in the House of Representatives if it gets at least two percent of the total number of votes cast in the party-list elections, and an additional seat for every 2 percent of the vote thereafter until a party has three seats in maximum. A temporary restraining order (TRO) or status quo ante order (SQA) from the high court would enable the group’s first nominee Francisco Datol Jr. to be proclaimed winner should they get at least two percent of the votes in the party-list polls. Earlier, the group officially registered as Coalition of Associations of Senior Citizens in the Philippines Inc. was delisted by Comelec after its nominees parted to two factions and forged a term-sharing agreement for the two seats they won in the 2010 poll. The two factions both had questioned the poll body’s move with the SC and secured a halt order that enabled their group to be printed in the ballot. A month before the polls, the SC remanded Senior Citizens’ case to the Comelec and laid down new six-point parameters for participating groups. Granting relief to 52 groups, the high court removed the previous requirement of the Comelec for groups joining the party-list election to belong to a marginalized or underrepresented sector, which was based on the SC’s ruling in the Ang Bagong Bayani case in June 2001. A few days before the elections, the poll body stood by its earlier decision to delist petitioner. In its latest petition, the group decried violation of its constitutional right to due process and said it was not given chance to contest the Comelec ruling. The group also questioned the ground for its disqualification, saying violation of term-sharing policy is not among the grounds for disqualification laid down by the high court. Apart from issuance of TRO or SQA, the Senior Citizens party-list group also asked the high court to nullify the Comelec resolution disqualifying it from the polls.
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