Manila, Philippines – The Supreme Court ordered the Commission on Elections on Wednesday to reserve congressional seats for the Coalition of Associations of Senior Citizens in the Philippines Inc. (Senior Citizens).
The SC has issued status quo ante orders (SQAOs) after a special en banc session that stops the COMELEC resolutions in disqualifying the Senior Citizens and Abang Lingkod as party-lists from the recently concluded midterm elections. The SQAOs revert the status of the said party-lists prior to the disqualification.
While the proclamation of Senior Citizens is still on-hold, the high court ordered COMELEC to reserve at least two seats for the said party-list that ranked 10th in COMELEC’s partial and official tally with 671,916 votes.
“In the Senior Citizens SQAO, the Court further directs the COMELEC to reserve the seat(s) intended for petitioner Senior Citizens according to the votes it garnered in the May 13, 2013 elections,” Court Spokesperson Theodore Te said.
SC did not order COMELEC to reserve a seat for Abang Lingkod but the SQAO implies that the said party-list should not be disqualified making them eligible for a congressional seat.
The issued SQAO however entails that Senior Citizens may not be proclaimed yet until there is a final ruling on the case.
“Proclamations of Abang Lingkod and Senior Citizens as winners in the May 13, 2013 elections are ordered to be held in abeyance until the Court shall have resolved the petitions involving these two party-list groups,” explained Te.
COMELEC on the other hand said that they respect the decision of the Supreme Court.
“We will discuss this development (SQAO) in our en banc session on Thursday. Just the same, we respect the Court’s action on the petitions,” Comelec Commissioner Lucenito Tagle said.
The poll body has disqualified the Senior Citizens as a party-list group during the May 13, 2013 elections because of an alleged term-sharing agreement for the congressional seats they won during the 2010 elections.
Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno has earlier issued a temporary restraining order against the COMELEC on further proclamation of party-list winners and on the disqualification of Senior Citizens.
The high court’s Justices did no ratify the TRO issued by the Chief Justice but instead it pressed them to decide on the issue on Wednesday.