Supreme Court Restores Accreditation Of 8 Groups Disqualified By Comelec
Manila: The accreditation of not only four but eight party-list groups that had been disqualified by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for the 2013 elections has been restored temporarily by the Supreme Court (SC).
In a status quo ante order (SQAO) dated Nov. 13 but released only yesterday noon, the SC directed the eight party-list groups and the Comelec "to observe the status quo prevailing before the issuance of the assailed Comelec resolutions (disqualification orders) dated October 10, 2012 ... without prejudice to the final ruling of this Court on the merits."
Benefitted by the SQAO are the Ako Bicol Political Party (AKB), Association of Philippine Electric Cooperatives, Inc. (APEC), Aksyon Magsasaka-Partido Tinig ng Masa (AKMA-PTM), Kapatiran ng mga Nakulong na Walang Sala, Inc. (KAKUSA), 1st Consumers Alliance for Rural Energy, Inc. (1-CARE), Alliance for Rural and Agrarian Reconstruction, Inc. (ARARO), Association for Righteousness Advocacy on Leadership (ARAL), and the Alliance for Rural Concerns (ARC).
Instead of a temporary restraining order (TRO), the SC decided to issue SQAO. Both the TRO and the SQAO have the effect of stopping the Comelec from enforcing its disqualification resolutions.
But the SQAO, legal circles said, is a degree higher than the TRO since the former restores, temporarily, the accreditation of the eight party-list groups as if the disqualification orders of the Comelec do not exist until the final resolution of the petitions on the merits.
The SC consolidated all the eight petitions into one case with the petition filed by the AKB as the lead case.
The Comelec was ordered by the SC to file its comment within a non-extendible period of 10 days from receipt of the resolution.
In issuing the SQAO, the SC said:
"Now, therefore, effective immediately and continuing until further orders from this Court, You, petitioners and Respondent, your agents, representatives, or persons acting in your place or stead, are hereby required to observe the status quo prevailing before the issuance of the assailed COMELEC Resolutions dated October 10, 2012 in SPP No. 12-154 (PLM) and SPP No. 12-177 (PLM), October 11, 2012 in SPP No. 12-187 (PLM) and SPP No. 12-188 (PLM), October 16, 2012 in SPP No. 12-201 (PLM) and SPP No. 12-260 (PLM), and October 24, 2012 in SPP No. 12- 248 (PLM), SPP No. 12-015 (PLM) and SPP No. 12-288 (PLM).
"Given by the Supreme Court of the Philippines, this 13th day of November 2012."
Led by AKB, the party-list groups had pressed the SC for the issuance of the TRO because of the hectic schedule of the Comelec in the preparation for next year's elections.
They told the SC the resolution disqualifying them was issued seven months before next year's elections.
"The preparation and printing of official ballots, and other election paraphernalia will commence before the said date thereby necessitating a preservation of the status quo in order that petitioner AKB's rights be preserved," AKB said.
"The onset of several public holidays in the coming months, including the looming Christmas break inserts added urgency since said holidays lessen the time to resolve these issues, effectively depriving petitioner AKB of a fair chance to prepare for a nationwide campaign," it said.
AKB pointed out that the Comelec had already set the printing of ballots starting January 20, 2013 after finalizing the list of candidates for the elections before the Christmas vacation.
"Because of such schedule of the poll body, AKB stands to suffer tremendous and irreparable injury, and will continue to suffer such, if the implementation of the Resolution is not restrained," it stressed.--Courtesy of Manila Bulletin