The Supreme Court in an en banc decision has ordered the Commission on Elections to proclaim Abang Lingkod one of the winning partylist groups during the May 13 elections, with the number of seats it may be entitled to, based on the votes it garnered.
In its decision promulgated October 22 and posted on its website yesterday, the SC said the resolution issued by the COMELEC on May 10 cancelling Abang Lingkod’s registration and disallowing its participation in the May 13 elections is reversed and set aside.
The High Court noted that the Comelec, in its resolution dated Nov. 7, 2012, asserted that Abang Linkod failed to provide evidence that would show the track record of its five nominees , composed of a non-government organization worker, an employee and three farmers, in uplifting the sector that its represents.
Abang Lingkod is a sectoral organization that represents the interest of peasant farmers and fisherfolk.
Three of the five nominees of Abang Lingkod are farmers and thus are not required to present a track record showing their active participation in activities aimed to promote the sector it represents, the SC said.
The disqualification of one or some nominees of a party-list group should not automatically result in the disqualification of the group, it said.
Abang Lingkod’s first nominee is Stephen Paduano, alias Carapali Lualhati, former national commander of the Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade.
The COMELEC gravely abused its discretion when it insisted on requiring Abang Lingkod to provide its track record even if a group’s track record is no longer required pursuant to the SC pronouncement in Atong Paglaum, the High Court added.
Upholding the cancellation of Abang Lingkod’s registration, even if it was able to obtain sufficient number of votes for a legislative seat would serve no purpose other than to subvert the will of the electorate who voted to give it the privilege to represent them in the House of Representatives, the SC also said.*CPG