Comelec's Guanzon wants party-list nominees included in appointment ban

MANILA, Philippines – Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Rowena Guanzon now believes that the one-year ban on appointive posts should include party-list nominees, saying that they are just the same as other candidates.

"Party-list nominees should be included in the one-year ban on appointments.... There is no difference between them and those who run in regular elections as candidates...because the party-list nominees are in fact the candidates of the party-list group," Guanzon said at a Senate hearing on electoral reforms on Tuesday, October 8.

"People vote for the party-list group because they know who are the nominees," she added.

The poll commissioner also pointed out that party-list nominees file certificates of nomination and acceptance, which could be likened to the certificates of candidacy submitted for other elective posts.

Former poll commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal echoed Guanzon, saying that the one-year ban on appointive posts should include party-list nominees as their public post, like others, is a "personality-based vote."

NOW: The Senate committee on electoral reforms and participation holds a hearing on strengthening of the party-list systems, increasing candidates authorized expenses, hybrid elections among others items @rapplerdotcom pic.twitter.com/trvrfjZPlD — Sofia Tomacruz (@sofiatomacruz) October 8, 2019

A new stand: Guanzon did not always agree that party-list nominees should be covered by the one-year ban on appointive posts.

Like the rest of her peers in the Comelec en banc, Guanzon signed a poll minute resolution in June 2019 stating that the one-year prohibition was not applicable to nominees of a losing party-list group "as the nominees are not the candidates but rather the party-list itself."

Asked what prompted the change in position, Guanzon told Rappler: "When I realized that the people actually choose the [party-list group] on the basis of nominees, I concluded that they are in effect actually candidates."

Guanzon wants the appointment ban to be amended.

"Comelec has the power to make rules and methods as to elections," she added.

Other proposed amendments: In order to strengthen the party-list system, Guanzon also proposed that parties be prohibited from nominating any person who is related to any government official (except for barangay officials) until the 4th degree of consanguinity or affinity.

By Guanzon's proposal, this covers individuals related to government officials until first cousins. This, she said, is similar to the degree observed for disqualifications.

Meanwhile, Larrazabal proposed that lawmakers amend the Party-list System Act to ensure there are more stringent procedures in vetting and replacing nominees.

But he also proposed giving "more leeway" to party-list groups themselves when replacing nominees, citing several cases where nominees refused to give in to their groups, resulting in cases filed.

Gaps in the party-list system were placed under the spotlight when pro-Duterte blogger and former Palace communications official Mocha Uson received an appointive post just months after her loss in the May 2019 party-list elections.

The widely criticized congressional bid of Duterte Youth also forced the Comelec to face questions on its own rules. Both the public and lawmakers called out the group's winding attempts to enter Congress as an "abuse" of the system– Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

image