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BANAT VS COMELEC

FACTS:

On 27 June 2002, BANAT filed a Petition to Proclaim the Full Number of Party-List Representatives
Provided by the Constitution, docketed as NBC No. 07-041 (PL) before the NBC. BANAT filed its
petition because "the Chairman and the Members of the COMELEC have recently been quoted in the
national papers that the COMELEC is duty bound to and shall implement the Veterans ruling, that is,
would apply the Panganiban formula in allocating party-list seats."

BANAT filed a petition for certiorari and mandamus assailing the ruling in NBC Resolution No. 07-88.
BANAT did not file a motion for reconsideration of NBC Resolution No. 07-88.

On 9 July 2007, Bayan Muna, Abono, and A Teacher asked the COMELEC, acting as NBC, to reconsider
its decision to use the Veterans formula as stated in its NBC Resolution No. 07-60 because the
Veterans formula is violative of the Constitution and of Republic Act No. 7941 (R.A. No. 7941). On the
same day, the COMELEC denied reconsideration during the proceedings of the NBC.

ISSUE:

WON Section 11(b) of R.A. No. 7941 is unconstitutional.

WON The three-seat cap, as a limitation to the number of seat remains a valid limitation.

HELD:

A.

We examine what R.A. No. 7941 prescribes to allocate seats for party-list representatives. The first
clause of Section 11(b) of R.A. No. 7941 states that parties, organizations, and coalitions receiving at
least two percent (2%) of the total votes cast for the party-list system shall be entitled to one seat
each. This clause guarantees a seat to the two-percenters.

The second clause of Section 11(b) of R.A. No. 7941 provides that those garnering more than two
percent (2%) of the votes shall be entitled to additional seats in proportion to their total number of
votes. This is where petitioners and intervenors problem with the formula in Veterans lies. Veterans
interprets the clause in proportion to their total number of votes to be in proportion to the votes of
the first party. This interpretation is contrary to the express language of R.A. No. 7941.

We rule that, in computing the allocation of additional seats, the continued operation of the two
percent threshold for the distribution of the additional seats as found in the second clause of Section
11(b) of R.A. No. 7941 is unconstitutional. This Court finds that the two percent threshold makes it
mathematically impossible to achieve the maximum number of available party list seats when the
number of available party list seats exceeds 50. The continued operation of the two percent threshold
in the distribution of the additional seats frustrates the attainment of the permissive ceiling that 20%
of the members of the House of Representatives shall consist of party-list representatives.

To illustrate: There are 55 available party-list seats. Suppose there are 50 million votes cast for the 100
participants in the party list elections. A party that has two percent of the votes cast, or one million
votes, gets a guaranteed seat. Let us further assume that the first 50 parties all get one million votes.
Only 50 parties get a seat despite the availability of 55 seats. Because of the operation of the two
percent threshold, this situation will repeat itself even if we increase the available party-list seats to 60
seats and even if we increase the votes cast to 100 million. Thus, even if the maximum number of
parties get two percent of the votes for every party, it is always impossible for the number of occupied
party-list seats to exceed 50 seats as long as the two percent threshold is present.
We therefore strike down the two percent threshold only in relation to the distribution of the
additional seats as found in the second clause of Section 11(b) of R.A. No. 7941. The two percent
threshold presents an unwarranted obstacle to the full implementation of Section 5(2), Article VI of
the Constitution and prevents the attainment of the broadest possible representation of party,
sectoral or group interests in the House of Representatives.

In determining the allocation of seats for party-list representatives under Section 11 of R.A. No. 7941,
the following procedure shall be observed:

1. The parties, organizations, and coalitions shall be ranked from the highest to the lowest based on
the number of votes they garnered during the elections.

2. The parties, organizations, and coalitions receiving at least two percent (2%) of the total votes cast
for the party-list system shall be entitled to one guaranteed seat each.

3. Those garnering sufficient number of votes, according to the ranking in paragraph 1, shall be
entitled to additional seats in proportion to their total number of votes until all the additional seats
are allocated.

4. Each party, organization, or coalition shall be entitled to not more than three (3) seats.

In computing the additional seats, the guaranteed seats shall no longer be included because they have
already been allocated, at one seat each, to every two-percenter. Thus, the remaining available seats
for allocation as additional seats are the maximum seats reserved under the Party List System less the
guaranteed seats. Fractional seats are disregarded in the absence of a provision in R.A. No. 7941
allowing for a rounding off of fractional seats.

B.

Congress, in enacting R.A. No. 7941, put the three-seat cap to prevent any party from dominating the
party-list elections.

Neither the Constitution nor R.A. No. 7941 prohibits major political parties from participating in the
party-list system. On the contrary, the framers of the Constitution clearly intended the major political
parties to participate in party-list elections through their sectoral wings. In fact, the members of the
Constitutional Commission voted down, 19-22, any permanent sectoral seats, and in the alternative
the reservation of the party-list system to the sectoral groups.[33] In defining a party that participates
in party-list elections as either a political party or a sectoral party, R.A. No. 7941 also clearly intended
that major political parties will participate in the party-list elections. Excluding the major political
parties in party-list elections is manifestly against the Constitution, the intent of the Constitutional
Commission, and R.A. No. 7941. This Court cannot engage in socio-political engineering and judicially
legislate the exclusion of major political parties from the party-list elections in patent violation of the
Constitution and the law.

Read together, R.A. No. 7941 and the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission state that major
political parties are allowed to establish, or form coalitions with, sectoral organizations for electoral or
political purposes.

The qualifications of party-list nominees are prescribed in Section 9 of R.A. No. 7941:

Qualifications of Party-List Nominees. No person shall be nominated as party-list representative unless


he is a natural born citizen of the Philippines, a registered voter, a resident of the Philippines for a
period of not less than one (1) year immediately preceding the day of the elections, able to read and
write, bona fide member of the party or organization which he seeks to represent for at least ninety
(90) days preceding the day of the election, and is at least twenty-five (25) years of age on the day of
the election.
In case of a nominee of the youth sector, he must at least be twenty-five (25) but not more than thirty
(30) years of age on the day of the election. Any youth sectoral representative who attains the age of
thirty (30) during his term shall be allowed to continue until the expiration of his term.

Under Section 9 of R.A. No. 7941, it is not necessary that the party-list organizations nominee wallow
in poverty, destitution and infirmity[34] as there is no financial status required in the law. It is enough
that the nominee of the sectoral party/organization/coalition belongs to the marginalized and
underrepresented sectors,[35] that is, if the nominee represents the fisherfolk, he or she must be a
fisherfolk, or if the nominee represents the senior citizens, he or she must be a senior citizen.

Neither the Constitution nor R.A. No. 7941 mandates the filling-up of the entire 20% allocation of
party-list representatives found in the Constitution. The Constitution, in paragraph 1, Section 5 of
Article VI, left the determination of the number of the members of the House of Representatives to
Congress: The House of Representatives shall be composed of not more than two hundred and fifty
members, unless otherwise fixed by law, x x x. The 20% allocation of party-list representatives is
merely a ceiling; party-list representatives cannot be more than 20% of the members of the House of
Representatives. However, we cannot allow the continued existence of a provision in the law which
will systematically prevent the constitutionally allocated 20% party-list representatives from being
filled. The three-seat cap, as a limitation to the number of seats that a qualified party-list organization
may occupy, remains a valid statutory device that prevents any party from dominating the party-list
elections.