Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Comelec and the Party Lists

When the Comelec first rejected the application of Ang Ladlad as a party list for this year's election, I stumbled on the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission's website.

In it was a section that allowed you to send an e-mail, with a provided template, to the Comelec Chairman and its Commissioners, copied to Danton Remoto, Chairperson of Ang Ladlad; Congressman Lorenzo Tanada III, Chair of the Committee on Civil, Political and Human Rights; Leila De Lima, Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights; and Grace Poore of IGLHRC.

I personalized the template and clicked sent, without expecting any response from any of the recipients. By the way, the e-mail was meant to convince the Commissioners to rule in favor of Ladlad, as it filed a motion for reconsideration.

To my surprise, two of the commissioners replied:

Dear Jason,

Rest assured I will study the matter carefully.

Commissioner Rene V. Sarmiento

and 2./
A good day to you.

This is to acknowledge your email.

The decision was rendered by the 2nd Division, and I currently am a member of the 1st Division. A Motion for Reconsideration was filed elevating the matter to the En Banc, and rest assured, we shall go over all the records and evaluate the Petition. At this point, it would be premature to discuss the Petition or action to be taken by the En Banc.

Commissioner Gregorio Y. Larrazabal

In December, the En Banc voted on the motion: The three second division commissioners who first rejected Ladlad did not change their position and rejected the motion; the other three commissioners from the first division voted in favor of it. The tie was decided by the Comelec Chairman, who denied the motion with finality.

In his penned decision, he said:
"Thus, even if society’s understanding, tolerance, and acceptance of LGBT is legitimate, there can be no denying that Ladlad constituencies are still males and females, and they will remain either male or female — protected by the same Bill of Rights that applies to all citizens alike and who are amply represented also by the males and females who comprise our legislature."

Which doesn't make sense because all party list groups are comprised of humans; otherwise, we'll have animals in Congress. (Insert your own joke here.)

I looked up the names of those who voted in favor of the motion. I was heartened when I saw who they were: Commissioners Rene Sarmiento, Armando Velasco and Gregorio Larrazabal. I thought, no wonder they were so nice enough to respond to e-mail.

I sent another e-mail to Mr. Sarmiento and Larrazabal to thank them for their vote. Mr. Larrazabal was again gracious enough to reply:

Thank you for your email.

Though a minority voice, I still stand by my decision (I was the ponente in the En Banc, but was out-voted) which states that morality and religion should not be a basis for deciding a case.

Mabuhay po kayo.

Ang Ladlad filed for a petition at the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order on Comelec's decisions. As a result, Ang Ladlad will be included in the May 2010 ballots, although the SC has yet to render its final decision.

It's interesting to note that among the party lists approved by Comelec is Chinoy, which I assume is for Filipino-Chinese, one of our very dejected minority groups. There are also party list groups for Bicolanos, Ilonggos, Warays and Mindanaoans, perhaps validating the incompetence of their respective House representatives.

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chichirya said...

Props to the commissioners.

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