SC Declares Invalid Party-List Act and COMELEC Prohibitions on Previous Losing Candidates
January 27, 2023
The Supreme Court En Banc, on Tuesday, January 24, 2023, declared unconstitutional the provisions of both the Party-List System Act and the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Rules and Regulations governing the submission of nominees under the party-list-system which prohibit candidates who lost in the immediately preceding election from being included in the list of nominees for party-list representatives.
In a Decision penned by Associate Justice Jhosep Y. Lopez, the Court granted the Petitions for Certiorari and Prohibition with Application for the Issuance of Temporary Restraining Order and/or Writ of Injunction, filed in 2021, by Catalina G. Leonen-Pizzaro and Glen Quintos Albano (petitioners), candidates for party-list representatives in the 2019 National Elections, assailing the constitutionality of Section 8 of
R.A. No. 7941, otherwise known as the Party-List System Act, and Sections 5(d) and 10 of COMELEC Resolution No. 10717 which governs the submission of nominees of groups or organizations participating under the party-list-system of representation, insofar as the said provisions prevent a candidate for any elective office or a person who has lost in the immediately preceding elections from being included in the list of nominees for party-list representatives.
Petitioners likewise argued that Congress does not have the power to add additional qualifications set forth in Section 6, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution with respect to party-list representatives.
In granting the petitions, the Court declared invalid and unconstitutional the phrase “a person who has lost his bid for elective office in the immediately preceding election,” under Section 8 of R.A. No. 7941 (Party-List System Act), and the phrases “have lost in their bid for an elective office in the May 13, 2019 National and Local Elections” and “or a person who has lost his bid for an elective office in the May 13, 2019 National and Local Elections,” under Sections 5(d) and 10, respectively, of COMELEC Resolution No. 10717.
The Court found that the prohibition placed on losing candidates violates the constitutional guaranty of substantive due process as it effectively intrudes on the right of losing candidates in the immediately preceding elections from participating in the present elections.
It added that the State cannot require eligibility for public office to be conditioned on a candidate’s ill performance in the previous election, nor may such performance be used as a rubric to gauge the person’s ability to serve.
The Court also ruled that by the express wording of Section 5(1), Article VI of the 1987 Constitution, Congress is empowered to determine, by law, who shall be elected through the party-list system and, therefore,
determine the qualifications of the party-list representatives elected. Reviewing the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission, the Court found the clear intent of the framers to delegate to Congress, who is in the best position to draft, study, and enact all the details regarding the implementation of the party-list system, the determination of the qualifications of nominees of the party-list system.
The Court said that given these, there is nothing constitutionally repugnant on the part of Congress to provide for the selection of party- list nominees as reflected in Section 8 of R.A. No. 7941 and as later adopted and reproduced by the respondent COMELEC in its Resolution No. 10717.
The Court likewise ruled that regardless of the power of Congress to provide for the qualifications of party-list representatives by law, it must still yield to the general limitations on legislation, particularly the equal protection clause.
Applying the rational basis test, the Court held that the assailed portion of the provisions under R.A. No. 7941 and COMELEC Resolution No. 10717 must be struck down, as no substantial distinction exists between candidates who lost in the immediately preceding election vis-à- vis those who won or did not participate therein.
Full text of G.R. No. 257610 and UDK No. 17230 (Albano v. COMELEC; Pizarro v. COMELEC) at: https://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/257610-17230-glen-quintos-albano-vs-commission-on-elections-catalina-g-leonen-pizarro-vs-commission-on-elections/
Full text of the Concurring Opinion of Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo at: https://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/257610-17230-concurring-opinion-chief-justice-alexander-g-gesmundo/
Full text of the Dissenting Opinion of Senior Associate Justice Marvic M.V.F Leonen at: https://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/257610-17230-dissenting-opinion-justice-marvic-m-v-f-leonen/
Full text of the Concurring Opinion of Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin S. Caguioa at: https://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/257610-17230-concurring-opinion-justice-alfredo-benjamin-s-caguioa/
Full text of the Dissent of Associate Justice Amy C. Lazaro-Javier at: at: https://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/257610-17230-dissent-justice-amy-c-lazaro-javier/