Comelec backs move to amend party-list law

THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) is supporting the passage of a bill that would amend Republic Act (RA) 7941 or the Party-List law.

"Sana nga, kung magkakaroon ng amendments sa party-list, magandang development yan. Otherwise, magkakagulo na naman sa 2016 ang party-list kung wala pa ring amendments," said Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes.

He said they are willing to work with the authors of the bill to make sure that everything will be smooth come 2016 national and local polls.

Brillantes added that they are also interested in looking into the amendments being proposed by House Bill 179 (Genuine Party-List Group and Nominee Act), which is sponsored by militant lawmakers.

Brillantes noted that the law does not only need amendments but a total revision.

Among the provisions of the bill is to allow the registration of a group, organization or political party as a party-list group only after it has proven in an evidentiary public hearing to be conducted by the Comelec that it truly represents the marginalized and the underrated sectors and that its nominee actually belongs to the sector he or she seeks to represent.

On the other hand, the measure disqualifies those who are related to incumbent government officials by affinity or consanguinity to the third degree, appointed and served in the Cabinet within five years from the party-list election they are being nominated for and served as the provincial director of the Philippine National Police (PNP) or battalion commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) or any higher position within five years from the party-list election they are being nominated for.

RA 7941 was first implemented in 1998.

Before the May 2013 polls, the Comelec implemented stricter rules in accrediting groups such as representing a marginalized sector, having qualified nominees, and valid track record, thus it managed to bring down the participating groups to only 84 from 187 that participated in 2010.

But the Supreme Court (SC) issued a stay order on the disqualification of some groups, forcing the Comelec to list 123 groups in the official ballot.

This was followed by an SC decision in April 2013 allowing non-marginalized groups to participate in the party-list elections, which dismayed militant groups. (FP/Sunnex)
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