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Monday, April 27, 2009

Chiz to COMELEC: Don't Dance Cha-Cha with House

Sen. Chiz Escudero scored the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) for playing into the hands of Cha-cha proponents by delaying the proclamation of the new partylist representatives as ordered by the Supreme Court.


"The cha-cha proponents could take this opening to railroad their long-planned agenda to extend their stay in power," Escudero said.  "The COMELEC decision to delay the proclamation raises questions about its motives."


He pointed out that some of the new representatives are members of partylist groups which are opposed to changing the constitution before the 2010 elections


Escudero had earlier hailed the SC decision in BANAT vs. Comelec saying that it virtually killed the plot by administration allies to change the constitution through a constitutional assembly since it would increase the number of votes required to pass the proposal.


A day after saying the poll body would abide by the Supreme Court's ruling, COMELEC Chairman Jose Melo said his colleagues would first have to meet with the High Court's technical working group before acting on the tribunal's decision.


The Supreme Court unanimously rejected the old formula of computing partylist representation in the House which was two percent of the highest votes cast for a partylist group.


The new formula as penned by the tribunal is 20 percent of the total number of legislative districts which under the present composition of the House should be 55 seats.


Escudero, who is chairman of the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments, Revisions of Codes and Law, said the legal and constitutional basis for proclaiming the new partylist representatives are clear and unequivocal.


"There is no need for an omnibus law to allow the increase in the number of seats at the House beyond 250. The Constitution is clear on this: the number of seats shall be 250 unless otherwise provided by law," he said.


"The Supreme Court ruling declares that acts of Congress creating legislative districts in effect increases the number of seats in the House of Representatives. Proclamation delayed is democracy denied," he added.


Earlier, Speaker Prospero Nograles said he would ask the House's legal department to study the ruling after stating that the decision would put the House membership over 250 which he said would violate the Constitution.


On Wednesday, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile formally informed Escudero that he is withdrawing authorship of Senate Bill 3123 or "An Act Increasing the Number of Membership in the House of Representatives" citing the Supreme Court ruling.


A similar bill had earlier been filed at the Lower House by Iloilo Rep. Raul Gonzalez Jr. and has passed the committee level.



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