A party-list lawmaker on Thursday admonished Elections Commissioner Rowena Guanzon that in 2013, the Supreme Court issued a decision allowing political parties and groups not representing marginalized and unrepresented sectors to participate in the party-list election.
AKO-Bicol Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr. challenged Guanzon for seeking the passage of a law banning political dynasties and the amendments of Republic Act 7941 or the Party-List Law to prevent a “family affair” in various elective positions.
Garbin underscored the need for Guanzon to always be guided by the Supreme Court ruling when making comments.
The high court has ruled that political parties, including party-list groups, do not need to represent the marginalized or underrepresented sector.
“Commissioner Guanzon, being a lawyer, must abide by it (ruling) because all SC decisions form part of the law of the Land. She should focus more on the strict implementation of RA No. 7941 or the Party-List law,” he said.
Rodolfo Javellana, who is running under the United Filipino Consumers and Commuters party-list group, said Guanzon should have been more careful in making such sweeping pronouncements.
“All these questions on the party-list system has already been addressed by the SC ruling. Commissioner Guanzon, and the Comelec, in general, should be more circumspect since they will supervise the elections next year. We should all uphold the rule of law, which means the SC ruling must be respected,” Javellana said.
For his part, Ako Bicol Rep. Rodel Batocabe, president of the Party List Coalition, said the issue of a family dominating public positions should be “submitted to the sound discretion of the people who would choose their leaders.”
Meanwhile, Rep. Salvador Belaro Jr. of the 1-Ang Edukasyon party-list group said there was a need to upgrade the qualifications for all elective posts.
“While we strive to serve well, contrast that to all of these people who are not fit to hold public office. Completion of a college education, actual experience running a working business, successful practice of a chosen profession, and prior government work experience must be among the minimum qualifications,” he said.
Nuisance candidates, other ill-prepared aspirants for elective public office, and the pervasive menace of drug addiction are more than enough reasons for the country to upgrade its constitutional qualifications for all elective posts, he said in a statement.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian urged his colleagues in the Senate to pass a bill that institutionalizes the definition of nuisance candidates and hold them liable for election offenses.
In filing Senate Bill 911, Gatchalian said candidates who do not intend to launch a viable campaign are wasting the time and resources of the Comelec.
The lawmaker argued that although the 1987 Constitution guarantees equal access to opportunities for public service, the Supreme Court has ruled that running for public office is a privilege, not a right.
“We are happy we have a lot of people who want to be involved in nation-building by offering themselves to be public servants,” he said.
“But this seeking an election is subject to the limitations imposed by law and must take into account practical considerations. This bill will penalize people who do not take this privilege seriously and merely use the COC filing period as a platform to disrespect our electoral process,” he said.
Under Gatchalian’s bill, the Comelec may cancel a COC if, after affording due process to the filing party, it finds that the certificate was filed to obtain money, profit, or any other consideration. With Macon Ramos-Araneta