MANILA, Philippines — The decision of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to recognize the administration-allied Nacionalista Party (NP) as the dominant minority party in the May 13 elections was a “travesty of democracy” and flouted the 2004 Supreme Court ruling on the matter, detained opposition Sen. Leila de Lima said on Sunday.
De Lima, a topnotch election lawyer before joining the government, said the May 8 resolution of the poll body, which also declared Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan as the primary majority party, was “both a legal and political anomaly.”
She said her political party, the opposition Liberal Party, was correct in challenging the Comelec’s ruling, which was issued barely four days before the midterm balloting.
“The Comelec should revisit its procedure for the determination of the dominant majority and minority parties,” De Lima said in a handwritten statement from her detention cell in Camp Crame.
“As it is, its present procedure has resulted in the travesty of democracy, where the administration majority parties have become nothing else but more dominant, and the minority opposition more marginalized than ever before,” she said.
According to the senator, the criteria set by the Comelec in designating NP as the dominant minority party was actually the rules applied in recognizing the 10 “major political parties” as stipulated in Section 26 of Republic Act (RA) No. 7166, or the Synchronized National and Local Elections law, and Section 34 of RA 9369, which amended the Automated Elections System law.
“This is clearly wrong,” De Lima argued. “The second major political party would not necessarily be an opposition or minority party, as in the case of the NP, but may in fact be part of the majority party as its majority coalition partner.”
De Lima said the Comelec should have determined first the political parties belonging to the administration and opposition blocs before choosing which among these groups should be considered the “dominant” majority and minority parties as defined under the election laws.
In fact, she said the high tribunal had ruled in the case of Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino vs Comelec in 2004 that the intention of determining “dominant status and representation to a minority party is precisely to serve as an effective check on the majority.”
Not an effective check
She said the tribunal also pointed out that “the administration party has always been unnecessarily and dangerously too big and the opposition party too small to be an effective check on the administration.”
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