With the past elections’ long list of party-list groups starting with the letter A or the number 1, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) is considering the possibility of ballots having random lists instead of alphabetized ones for the May 2013 elections.
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said they might do this with the help of a special computer program.
“That was agreed upon in the en banc (meeting) to address the imbalance due to the many groups having names beginning either with the letter A or the number 1. To get rid of that element, the plan is to randomize the names in the ballot,” he said.
According to the Philippine Star, there are 172 party-list groups waiting for accreditation. Thirty-six have names beginning with the number 1 while 64 start with the letter A.
Jimenez said party-list groups at the top of the ballots usually get more votes because voters tend not to browse through the whole list.
“For us, what is more important is for voters to have an informed choice and not just pick whoever is on top of the list. If you really want to vote for a certain party-list group, you’ll make an effort to look for the name of that group,” he said.
Among the new party-list groups vying for accreditation are The Magdalo Para sa Pilipino, a group of retired and former members of the Armed Forces with Senator Antonio Trillanes as chairman and the Addicts and Alcoholics Carrying the Message Association (AACMA). According to Clemente Abella Jr., the leader of the group, addicts are marginalized because addiction is a disease and not really a choice on the part of the addicts.
Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said there is no problem in AACMA seeking a seat in Congress but, “I have been saying that that is very possible for as long as they are already rehabilitated, not still addicts. If there is a record of a violation of the law, they are not qualified. We will remove nominees who have been convicted.”
Comelec is already set to start the “marathon hearings” on the 172 applicants.
Brillantes said, “We want to ?nish everything by the end of May to know which groups we will accredit and reject. We will be strict in the implementation of rules so that we can get rid of many groups.”
Hearings will be conducted every Wednesday and Thursday, until 8 in the evening.
Comelec has already delisted 62 party-list groups a week ago. In a 24-page resolution, the Comelec en banc said the groups are delisted because of their failure to obtain sufficient votes in the last two elections.
Under the Party-list System Act, Comelec may cancel the registration of a party-list group “it fails to participate in the last two preceding elections or fails to obtain at least two percent of the votes cast under the party-list system in the two preceding elections.”
However, the groups may again participate in the 2016 polls.
“They cannot run in 2013. Once you are delisted, you are suspended for one election. But they can re-register for 2016,” Brillantes said.
Reports say 29 of the groups failed to get sufficient votes while 32 failed to register under the party-list system.
Meanwhile, delisted groups from the previous elections are now again trying to apply for the 2013 midterm elections.
The 14 groups are:
- Magdalo Para Sa Pilipino (Magdalo)
- Migrante International (Migrante)
- Ang Nars Inc (Ang Nars)
- Courage Government Employees (Courage)
- Ang Guardia Alliance (AGA)
- Anti War / Anti Terror Mindanao Peace Movement (Awat Mindanao)
- 1 Ang Bagong Alyansang Tagpataguyod ng Adhikaing Sambayanan (1 Ang Batas)
- Asosasyon ng mga Kasambahay sa Pilipinas Inc (Kasambahay)
- Samahan ng mga Personero sa Aduana (SPA)
- Alyansa ng Lapiang Security Guards sa Pilipinas (Alas-Gwardya)
- Sanlakas (Sanlakas)
- Ang Ating Damayan (ADD)
- Alab ng Pusong Pinoy, Inc. (ALAB)
- Registration of Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association (ARBA)
Migrante and Sanlakas were delisted and were not allowed to run for the 2010 elections because they allegedly failed to get the required number of votes in the 2004 and 2007 elections.
Meanwhile, Comelec earlier rejected Courage’s accreditation, questioning the argument that government employees are marginalized and under-represented. Comelec, on the other hand, rejected Magdalo’s earlier application because the latter did not agree to admit that the Oakwood takeover “was wrong.”