MANILA, Philippines – Two Commission on Elections (Comelec) commissioners opposed naming the Duterte-allied Nacionalista Party (NP) as the dominant minority party in the May 13 elections.
Comelec Commissioner Luie Tito Guia wrote a memorandum to the Comelec en banc on Tuesday, May 7, expressing "serious reservation" about the way the Comelec selected the dominant minority party.
Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon concurred with Guia. "Yes, I dissented," Guanzon said.
The Comelec, in Resolution No. 10538 dated Wednesday, May 8, named Duterte's party PDP-Laban as the dominant majority party, and the Villar-led NP as the dominant minority party.
In his memorandum, Guia said he has no objection to the criteria and formula used to determine the "dominance" of parties in this year's elections.
Guia said, however, that the dominant minority party "should logically come from the minority, that is, a party that belongs to those that stand opposite the majority."
Defeating the purpose
Guia cited the definition of dominant opposition party under Philippine election law.
Section 274 of the Omnibus Election Code states that "the dominant opposition party shall be that political party, group or organization or coalition of major national or regional political parties opposed to the majority party which has the capability to wage a bona fide nationwide campaign as shown by the extent of its organization."
"Obviously, the second most dominant party would not necessarily belong to the minority," Guia said.
He continued: "The purpose of determining which are the dominant majority and minority parties is to ensure fairness in treating contending or opposing political groups. This purpose will not be served if the dominant minority party also comes from the majority."
Guia said the process "should first involve determining which parties belong to the majority and to the minority. It is after this that "the most dominant party in each of the two categories will be selected."
"With the current polarized political climate, it is not hard to divine which group belongs to the majority or minority," Guia said.
In the Comelec resolution on the dominant parties, Guanzon wrote a note above her signature: "I concur with Comm. LTG," in reference to the initials of Guia.
The Comelec's decision is a break from its record in at least the past two elections, held under President Benigno Aquino III.
In 2013 and 2016, the Comelec named the Aquino-led Liberal Party as the dominant majority party, and the Binay-led opposition party, the United Nationalist Alliance, as the dominant minority party.
Republic Act No. 9369 requires the Comelec to give copies of election returns and certificates of canvass to the dominant majority party and dominant minority party.
Senator Francis Pangilinan, Liberal Party president, blasted the Comelec for its decision to make NP the dominant minority party.
"Paano naman nangyari 'yun eh magkaalyado ang PDP at NP sa ilalim ng kasalukuyang administrasyon? Sila na ang majority, sila pa rin ang minority? Mga kagalang-galang na mga commissioners, kontra sa isang demokrasya ang inyong naging pasya," Pangilinan wrote in a Facebook post on Friday, May 10.
(How could that happen when PDP and NP are allies under the current administration? They're already the majority and they're still the minority? Honorable commissioners, your decision is against democracy.)
"Kontra sa common sense. Kalokohan. Pinwera ninyo ang oposisyon at binigay lahat ng pribilehiyo sa administration (This is against common sense. Foolishness. You marginalized the opposition and gave all privileges to the administration)," Pangilinan added.
The 7-member Comelec is packed with Duterte appointees, except for Guia, Guanzon, and Al Parreño, who were appointed by Aquino. (READ: PROFILES: The men and women of the Comelec running the 2019 elections) – Rappler.com
Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.