Case Digest: PGBI v. COMELEC

G.R. No.190529 : April 29, 2010




For the upcoming May 2010 elections, the COMELECen banc issued on October 13, 2009 Resolution No. 8679 deleting several party-list groups or organizations from the list of registered national, regional or sectoral parties, organizations or coalitions.Among the party-list organizations affected was PGBI; it was delisted because it failed to get 2% of the votes cast in 2004 and it did not participate in the 2007 elections.PGBI filed its Opposition to Resolution No. 8679, but likewise sought, through its pleading, the admission ad cautelam of its petition for accreditation as a party-list organization under the Party-List System Act. The COMELEC denied PGBIs motion/opposition for lack of merit.

ISSUE: Whether or not there is legal basis for delisting PGBI.

HELD: COMELEC's decision is annulled.

POLITICAL LAW: delisting of any national, regional or sectoral party

The law is clear the COMELEC may motu proprio or upon verified complaint of any interested party, remove or cancel, after due notice and hearing, the registration of any national, regional or sectoral party, organization or coalition if it: (a)fails to participate in the last two (2) preceding elections;or(b)fails to obtain at least two per centum (2%) of the votes cast under the party-list system in the two (2) preceding elections for the constituency in which it has registered. The word or is a disjunctive term signifying disassociation and independence of one thing from the other things enumerated; it should, as a rule, be construed in the sense in which it ordinarily implies,as a disjunctive word. Thus, the plain, clear and unmistakable language of the law provides for two (2) separate reasons for delisting.

To reiterate, (a) Section 6(8) of RA 7941 provides for two separate grounds for delisting; these grounds cannot be mixed or combined to support delisting; and (b) the disqualification for failure to garner 2% party-list votes in two preceding elections should now be understood to mean failure to qualify for a party-list seat in two preceding elections for the constituency in which it has registered.This is how Section 6(8) of RA 7941 should be understood and applied.

PGBIs situation a party list group or organization that failed to garner 2% in a prior election and immediately thereafter did not participate in the preceding election is something that is not covered by Section 6(8) of RA 7941.From this perspective, it may be an unintended gap in the law and as such is a matter for Congress to address.The Court cannot and do not address matters over which full discretionary authority is given by the Constitution to the legislature; to do so will offend the principle of separation of powers.If a gap indeed exists, then the present case should bring this concern to the legislatures notice.

On the due process issue, PGBI's right to due process was not violated for PGBI was given an opportunity to seek, as it did seek, a reconsideration of Resolution No. 8679.The essence of due process is simply the opportunity to be heard; as applied to administrative proceedings, due process is the opportunity to explain ones side or the opportunity to seek a reconsideration of the action or ruling complained of.A formal or trial-type hearing is not at all times and in all instances essential.The requirement is satisfied where the parties are afforded fair and reasonable opportunity to explain their side of the controversy at hand. What is frowned upon is absolute lack of notice and hearing. PGBI was not denied due process.In any case, given the result of this Resolution, PGBI has no longer any cause for complaint on due process grounds.

The petition for review is GRANTED.