By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
The procedures in the canvassing of party list votes is the same as for the other positions, said Commission on Elections Commissioner James Jimenez. And the one thing that keeps them from immediately proclaiming the initial winners is the computation to determine who among the party-list groups have gathered enough votes to get seats, as provided for by Republic Act No. 7941 or the Party List System Act.
“If we announce the winners early when the voting base is still low, some proclaimed winners might be surprised that they have been removed from the list of winners after all election returns have been canvassed and the actual number of party-list votes cast have been counted,” Jimenez told Bulatlat.
Party list representatives constitute no more than twenty percent of the total number of members of the Lower House. With 285 district representatives, there should be 57 seats reserved for party list groups in Congress. Party-list groups that have garnered two percent of the total party list votes gains a seat, up to a maximum of three.
On Tuesday May 25, Comelec announced that they would proclaiming the top ten party lists groups that have garnered two percent of the party-list votes. However by Thursday May 28, Comelec moved the proclamation to Monday May 31 because, its officials said, they have only canvassed 96 percent of the total party-list votes.
But for party list groups, there is no need to wait that long. Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Anakpawis, Kabataan, Bagong Henerasyon, Cibac and other party list groups, filed a motion before Comelec to proclaim two seats each for the top twelve party-list groups that have garnered at least two percent of the party-list votes,
The top twelve party list groups are Ako Bicol, Senior Citizens, Buhay, Akbayan, Gabriela, Coop-Natcco, 1-Care, Abono, Bayan Muna, An Waray, Cibac and A Teacher.
One seat each, read the motion, should be proclaimed for party lists groups that rank from 13 to 30 as the party list results may no longer be affected by the yet to be cavassed votes.
New Formula Needed
With only a few days left before the said proclamation, the progressive bloc in Congress made last ditch efforts to ensure a more proportional representation in the party-list system,” Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño told Bulatlat.
Under the Carpio formula, seats are first allocated to party list groups that have garnered at least two percent of the party-list votes. A seat is allotted for every two percent that a party-list group garnered. Since 20 percent of the total number of members of the Lower House are allotted to representatives of party-list groups, those that were not able to garner two percent are ranked and given one seat until the party list seats are filled up.
Casiño said there is a need to review the Carpio formula because it is unfair for party list groups that were able to garner two percent of the votes. He said with the Carpio formula even party-list groups that have gained a mere 0.3 percent of the votes also gain a seat.
“It means to get one seat through the ranking system, a party-list group only needs 170,000 votes. But to get two seats, a party-list group has to get four times more. And to get three seats, ten times,” Casiño told Bulatlat, “The number of seats should reflect the number of votes.”
High Turn out
This year’s total party-list votes spiked to around 30.75 million from only 15,337,808 during the 2007 elections. Jimenez explained that it was impossible for a voter to ignore the party list elections when majority of the names listed in the ballot are party list groups.
“That may have come into play but we do not know yet how much it has affected (the party list elections),” Casiño said, adding that voters who are not familiar with the party list system may easily go through the names of the party list groups in the ballot and choose a group that sound good to their ears. But Casiño said there are other factors that largely contributed to the surprising increase in the party list votes.
For one, Casiño said, local politicians have been fielding their own party-list groups, and in the process bastardizing the system. They are purportedly representing marginalized sectors that they were never a part of. He said local politicians usually have command votes because they usually come from political clans.
Mikey Arroyo, son of outgoing president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who is likewise an outgoing district representative of Pampanga, is the first nominee of party-list group Ang Galing Pinoy, which supposedly represents the interest of security guards. “These security guards may not be even aware that there is a party list group representing them,” Casiño said.
Another factor, Casiño said, is the huge spendings in television advertisements by some party list groups. A report posted on the website of abs-cbn news revealed that over P162 million ($3,507,328) were spent by some party-list groups for TV ads. Casiño added that he observed that the TV ads of Ako Bicol Party list, which topped the party-list elections, were no less than seven times a day as the elections drew near.
In the meantime, the final proclamation of all party-list groups that have gained seats in the Lower House would have to wait as the Comelec intends to complete the canvassing of election returns first, including the results of the special elections in seven towns in Lanao del Sur and certain polling precincts in Bssilan and Sanranggani, which is scheduled on June 3. Bulatlat.com