Supreme Court voids NP-NPC merger
By Helen Flores
The Philippine Star
MANILA, Philippines – The Liberal Party (LP) stopped the Nacionalista Party (NP) yesterday from acquiring the status of dominant minority party after the Supreme Court (SC) voided the NP’s coalition with the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC).
In a unanimous decision, the SC agreed with the LP that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) committed “grave abuse of discretion” in disregarding its own deadline in approving the NP-NPC coalition.
“(The) NP-NPC’s petition for registration as a coalition is time-barred,” read the decision.
“Thus, Comelec was wrong in ordering the out-of-time registration of the NP-NPC coalition.
“In so ruling, we emphasize that the matter of party registration raises critical election concerns that should be handled with discretion commensurate with the importance of elections to our democratic system.
“The Comelec should be at its most strict in implementing and complying with the standards and procedures the Constitution and our laws impose.”
Records show the NP-NPC applied for registration as a coalition and accreditation as a dominant minority party last Feb. 12, the deadline for filing of petitions for accreditation of parties.
The deadline for registration of parties, however, was set way back in Aug. 17 last year.
The Comelec granted the registration of the NP-NPC coalition last April 12.
The decision was penned by Associate Justice Arturo Brion.
Melo: LP could be named dominant minority party
Comelec Chairman Jose Melo believes the LP could become the dominant minority party based on his own calculation of its membership.
“This is only my opinion,” he said.
“This is personal. The commission will issue a resolution on this… Tentatively, the Lakas-Kampi-CMD will become the dominant majority party.”
The LP, NP-NPC and the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino have each applied for recognition as the dominant minority party.
Lakas-Kampi-CMD was the only party to seek the dominant majority status.
In determining the dominant majority and minority parties, the Comelec computes the political parties’ membership, including incumbent officials and those running in the May 10 polls.
Under Republic Act 9369, the Poll Automation Law, the dominant majority and minority parties are entitled to the fifth and sixth copies of the election returns (ERs).
Their watchers are also given priority in cramped polling precincts.
LP: SC ruling would give us upper hand in Monday’s polls
The LP believes the SC decision voiding the NP-NPC coalition would level the political playing field that had been tilted in favor of the NP after the Comelec recognized the NP-NPC coalition.
Florencio Abad, LP campaign manager, said as the dominant minority party, the LP could gain access to the Comelec central server for the transmitted results of the elections.
“The Supreme Court proved what the Liberal Party has been saying right from the start – that this fake coalition was formed only by an evil coalition out to steal the elections from the forces of good,” he said.
NP: Ties with NPC remain strong
Ties with the NPC remain strong despite the SC ruling voiding their coalition, the NP said yesterday.
NP spokesman Gilbert Remulla said yesterday the SC decision was based on a technicality and does not reflect the solid working relationship between the two parties.
“The PCOS machines will still be able to provide the election returns to all parties regardless of dominant majority/minority status,” he said. — With Sheila Crisostomo, Aurea Calica, Christina Mendez