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Party-list canvassing resumes; Comelec hit

The Commission on Elections on Sunday set for itself a 10-day schedule within  which to proclaim the winning party-list groups in the 2013 midterm polls. Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr said steps were being made to speed up the process after the poll body was accused by militant groups of suspending the party-list count as a ploy to rig the results and allow pro-administration groups to win and ease out the vocal critics of President Benigno Aquino III. The Comelec, sitting as the National Board of Canvassers, will draw up “amendatory rules” to  quicken the canvassing of votes for the party-list, he said. “We have made preliminary discussion and are preparing for some amendatory rules on party-list only for the purpose of facilitating the canvassing,” Brillantes told reporters. The Comelec on Sunday resumed the canvassing of votes after being able to proclaim all 12 winning senatorial bets on Saturday, five days after the elections. Brillantes said he expected the canvassing for party-list groups to be more difficult than what the poll body did for the senatorial votes. Election watchdog group Automated Election System (AES) Watch earlier described the 2013 midterm polls as a “technology and political disaster,” citing the delay in the transmission of results and the supposedly “arbitrary” proclamation of winning candidates. Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said the stalled count would deny representation to sectors for at least a month. “What is more grating is that the delay is based on mere speculations. The party-list system is entitled to 20 percent of lower house, which is 58 seats in Congress,” Colmenares said. “We never asked for a suspension of the canvassing of party-list votes, merely for the poll body to abide by its own decision, which became final after five days from notice to the groups without an appeal or motion for reconsideration,” Colmenares said. Anakpawis staged a rally outside the Philippine International Convention Center where the National Board of Canvassers is convened, demanding that the canvassing of the party-list votes. “The suspension of canvassing of party-list votes allows more time for vote shaving and padding,” Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano said. “We are fully aware of the government’s sinister intention to block the entry of progressive party-lists in Congress. The canvassing must resume as soon as possible. The people’s votes must be protected and safeguarded at all times.” According to the Party-list System Act (Republic Act 7941),  groups that received at least two percent of the total votes cast for the party-list system shall be entitled to one congressional seat each while those who received more than two percent of the votes shall be entitled to additional seats in proportion to their total number of votes. Each party-list organization shall not be awarded more than three seats in Congress. There are 111 party-list groups now vying to win 58 available seats in the House that represents 20 percent of the 250 legislative districts. In the 15th Congress, there were 236 legislative districts, prompting the House to accommodate 49 party-list groups but Congress has added 14 more districts this year, which entitled the party-list groups to 58 seats. Of the 285-member House, there were 220 congressmen who belong to the majority coalition led by the ruling party Liberal Party, which has 102 members. With Christine Herrera
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