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[ G.R. No. 133355. February 23, 1999]

RAMON A. GONZALES vs. COMELEC.

EN BANC

Gentlemen:

Quoted hereunder, for your information, is a resolution of this Court dated FEB 23, 1999.

G.R. No. 133355 (Ramon A. Gonzales vs. Commission on Elections.)

Petitioner Ramon A. Gonzales brought this suit for prohibition to enjoin enforcement of R.A. No. 7941, �11(b), which provides that a party, organization, or coalition must obtain at least 2% of the total votes cast for the party-list system in order to be entitled to a seat in the House of Representatives. He contends that said provision contravenes Art. VI, �5(2) of the Constitution, which provides that party-list representatives shall constitute 20% of the total number of members of the House of Representatives, including party-list representatives, since an application of the said limitation in R.A. No. 7941, �11(b) will result in less than this number being allowed seats. Indeed, in its Resolution No. 3047-B, dated June 26, 1998, and Supplemental Resolution No. 3047-C, dated September 9, 1998, the Commission on Elections en banc proclaimed only 14 party-list representatives because only 13 organizations, of which they were the nominees, obtained at least 2% of the votes cast for parties, organizations, and coalitions under the party-list system.1 [Each of the 13 organizations, with the exception of APEC, was allotted a seat. APEC, which obtained 5.50% of the total number of votes in the party-list system, was allotted two seats.] Petitioner, who is issuing as a "registered voter of Precinct No. 52204, Trinity High School, Damayang Lagi, Quezon City" and "in behalf of all voters similarly situated," prays:

WHEREFORE, it is most respectfully prayed that a temporary restraining order be ISSUED EX-PARTE to restrain the implementation of Section 11(b), R.A. 7941 and after hearing, judgment be RENDERED declaring said provision unconstitutional and void and directing respondent COMELEC to cause the proclamation as elected representatives the first 52 organizations from the party-list system that get the highest votes in the May 11, 1998 elections, without pronouncement as to costs.

Petitioner subsequently filed a motion, dated November 13, 1998, for leave to withdraw his petition on the ground that the same had been rendered moot by the decision of the COMELEC Second Division to proclaim 38 additional party-list representatives nominated by the next 38 groups garnering the highest number of votes for the party list system in the May 11, 1998 elections, even though each did not obtain at least 2% of the votes, thus bringing the total number of party-list representatives to 52. In its Resolution, dated October 15, 1998, the Second Division of the COMELEC ruled that it is mandatory that 20% of the total number of seats in the House of Representatives, including those reserved for party-list representatives, or coalitions in the party-list system, and that the 2% threshold requirement in �11(b) of R.A. No. 7941 should be disregarded to attain this objective.

In its Resolution, dated January 7, 1999, the COMELEC en banc affirmed the Second Division's resolution and the proclamation of 37 nominees as party list representatives, leaving only one nominee belonging to AABANTE KA PILIPINAS to be proclaimed pending the resolution of petitions for correction of alleged errors in the election returns.

Required to comment on petitioner's motion, the Solicitor General, on behalf of the COMELEC, and the petitioner-in-intervention (Lady Local Legislators' League, a party-list group) informed the Court that they had no objection to the withdrawal of the instant petition.

By the aforesaid Resolutions, the COMELEC implemented R.A. No. 7941 in the manner prayed for by petitioner in this case. Conformably with his theory, the COMELEC, as already stated, ruled that 20% of the total number of seats in the House of Representatives, including those reserved for party-list representatives, should be allotted to the parties, organizations, and coalitions under the party-list system. To the extent that it allows less than this number of seats to be filled, the 2% threshold requirement in R.A. No. 7941, �11(b) was disregarded. In sum, the COMELEC agreed with petitioner's theory that the 52 seats be filled by proclaiming the nominees of the first 51 groups.

However, on January 30, 1999, petitioner Gonzales filed a motion seeking to recall his previous motion to withdraw his petition on the ground that the validity of the subsequent COMELEC resolutions has been put in issue by the filing of several petitions in this Court, assailing the aforesaid Resolutions.2 [Veterans Federation Party v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 136781; AKBAYAN! (Citizens' Action Party) v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 136786; ALAGAD (Partido ng Maralitang-Lungsod) v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 36795; Abanse! Pinay v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 136807.]

As the petitions in question seek to set aside the resolutions of the COMELEC, it is obvious that petitioner's interest is opposed to that of the petitioners in the other cases. He cannot maintain his action in this case because the COMELEC decision is in his favor. He, therefore, has no cause of action against the COMELEC. Possession of a sufficient legal interest is an aspect of standing.3 [In re Saturnino Bermudez, G.R. No. 76180, Oct. 24, 1986.] As this Court has held, to satisfy the standing requirement, a party must show (a) that he has personally suffered some actual or threatened injury as a result of the allegedly illegal action of the government; (b) that the injury is fairly traceable to the challenged action; and (c) that the injury is likely to be redressed by a favorable action.4 [Telecommunications and Broadcast Attorneys of the Philippines Inc. v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 132922, April 21, 1998; Tatad v. Garcia, Jr., 243 SCRA 436, 473 (1995) (concurring).]

Indeed, petitioner's complaint is that the vote cast by him in the May 11, 1998 elections for party, organization, or coalition under the party-list system was nullified as a result of the initial decision of the COMELEC to allocate seats in the House only to parties, organizations, and coalitions which obtained 2% of the total number of votes cast for the party-list system. But the COMELEC has since modified its decision by awarding the 52 seats reserved for party-list representatives to the first 51 organizations, regardless of the number of votes obtained by each. Hence, whatever interest petitioner Gonzales might have had in the beginning no longer exists.

Nor does petitioner have personality to intervene as respondent in the recent petitions. Party-list representatives do not represent the public at large, but rather specific, marginalized segments of it. Hence, a voter may not complain that his right to be represented by party-list representatives has been violated in the absence of any showing that, as a result of the implementation of R.A. No. 7941, �11(b) by the COMELEC, a party, organization, or coalition he belongs to, supports, voted for, or which represents a constituency of which he is a part, has been deprived of a seat in the House of Representatives.

As already noted, petitioner is suing merely as a registered voter of Damayang Lagi, Quezon City. He does not claim to have any other connection with any particular party, organization, or coalition or with the marginalized sector it represents. Such an abstract interest is too tenuous to sustain a party's standing to raise a constitutional question.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED.

Very truly yours,

LUZVIMINDA D. PUNO

Clerk of Court


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