Calling on the poll body to proclaim an additional seat for the sole women’s partylist in Congress, members and supporters of Gabriela Women’s Partylist (GWP) held a protest action in front of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Regional Office on May 25, 2016.
The protest was part of a nationally-coordinated action in support of the GWP’s motion for reconsideration, correction and motion for the proclamation of its third nominee.
Last May 19, the COMELEC proclaimed 46 partylists who won in the elections, occupying 59 seats in Congress. However, the women’s group, who garnered the 2nd highest votes of more than 1.3M votes, said that they should have three seats in Congress instead of two as was proclaimed.
“If calculated correctly, the 20% allocation for partylists is 59.5, which when rounded off is 60, not 59 as the COMELEC used,” explained Audrey Rose Corce, GWP regional coordinator for the Cordillera, adding that using 59.5 in the formula for computing additional seats would give GWP two more seats, to get a total three seats in Congress.
Corce said that this was supported by the Supreme Court ruling on the Barangay Association for National Advancement and Transparency (BANAT) case, as cited by GWP lawyer Alnie Foja.
In a statement, Innabuyog, the regional chapter of Gabriela, said that the non-proclamation disrespects the mandate of the more than 1.3M Filipinos who continue to believe in and support Gabriela in representing the voice and interests of women and children.
Innabuyog denounced the COMELEC move as a clear expression of injustice, and further marginalization of the already marginalized indigenous women and children.
“First, the COMELEC and the Supreme Court deprived us of representation by disqualifying Sulong Katribu from the elections. Now, they are again depriving us of an opportunity for representation in Congress by not proclaiming Bai Ali Indayla,” said Innabuyog Chairperson Virginia Dammay, noting that Indayla would represent the Moro and indigenous women. Indayla is GWP’s third nominee and belongs to the Moro national minority.
Meanwhile, Ma. Ricca Llanes, deputy secretary-general of Innabuyog, said that one more seat in Congress should not be underestimated as it makes the difference in ensuring that the women’s agenda will be advanced and that laws will be passed to the advantage of women and children.
Llanes added that the overwhelming victory of GWP was the result of the painstaking organizing work of the women’s movement in the assertion of rights and economic empowerment, and its service to victims of abuse and violence.
“While we actively push for the proclamation of the third seat, we need to recognize that electoral victory is tactical and we should not solely rely on this. More than ever, we need to strengthen our ranks because it is only through the women’s movement that women can be liberated from oppression,” ended Llanes.
The partylist system was created purposively in order to give representation to marginalized sectors and groups in society, and is allotted 20% of seats in the House of Representatives. //Bernice Lee