Much like a swinging pendulum, the decision of the Supreme Court on which parties compose the party list system swings from one side to the other. Previously, the Supreme Court limited the party list system to representatives of marginalized and underprivileged sectors. In Atong Paglaum v. COMELEC (G.R. Nos. 203766, et al., April 2, 2013), the latest in the series of party list cases, the pendulum now points to the opposite side.
The New Ruling
Atong Paglaum involved 54 Petitions for Certiorari and Petitions for Certiorari and Prohibition filed by 52 party-list groups against COMELEC for disqualifying them from participating in the May 13, 2013 party-list elections. One of the main reasons for the disqualification was their failure to represent the marginalized and underrepresented.
Two issues were presented:
(1) Whether COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion in disqualifying the petitioners from participating in the May 2013 elections; and
(2) Whether the criteria for participating in the party-list system laid down in Ang Bagong Bayani v. COMELEC (ABB) and BANAT v. COMELEC (BANAT) should be applied by the COMELEC in the coming May 2013 elections.