Party-list representation in the House of Representatives of the Philippines refers to a system in which 20% of the House of Representatives is elected. While the House is predominantly elected by a plurality voting system, known as a first-past-the-post system, party-list representatives are elected by a type of party-list proportional representation. The 1987 Constitution of the Philippines created the party-list system. Purportedly under-represented community sectors or groups, including labor, peasant, urban poor, indigenous cultural, women, youth, and other such sectors as may be defined by law (except the religious sector), may participate in the party-list election. [A religious group, Buhay Hayaan Yumabong, claiming to represent pro-life proponents in the country, has however been allowed by the Philippines' Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to participate in the elections.]
The determination of what parties are allowed to participate—who their nominees should be, how the winners should be determined, and the allocation of seats for the winning parties—has been controversial ever since the party-list election was first contested in 1998 and has resulted in several landmark COMELEC and Supreme Court cases.
Party-list representatives are indirectly elected via a party-list election wherein the voter votes for the party and not for the party's nominees (closed list); the votes are then arranged in descending order, with the parties that won at least 2% of the national vote given one seat, with additional seats determined by a formula dependent on the number of votes garnered by the party. No party wins more than three seats. If the number of sectoral representatives does not reach 20% of the total number of representatives in the House, parties that haven't won seats but garnered enough votes to place them among the top sectoral parties are given a seat each until the 57 seats are filled. A voter therefore has two parallel votes in House of Representatives elections—for district representative and for the under-represented sectoral-party list representative/s. Neither vote affects the other.
Party-list representation makes use of the tendency for proportional representation systems to favor single-issue parties, and applies that tendency to allow underrepresented sectors to represent themselves in the law-making process.
The constitution mandates that the sectoral representatives shall compose 20% of the House of Representatives. For three consecutive terms after the ratification of the constitution, one-half of the seats allocated to party-list representatives were filled "by selection or election." For the 1987, 1992 and 1995 elections, the president appointed sectoral representatives, subject to the confirmation from the Commission on Appointments, half of whose members are derived from the House of Representatives.
|Election||Method||Legislative districts||Sectoral representatives||Underhang|
|20% quota||Seats won|
On March 3, 1995, Republic Act No. 7941 or the Party-List System Act was signed into law. It mandated that "the state shall promote proportional representation in the election of representatives to the House of Representatives through a party-list system". The five political parties with the highest number of members at the start of the 10th Congress of the Philippines were banned from participating. Each voter can vote one party via closed list; votes are then tallied nationwide as one at-large district, with the number of sectoral representatives not to surpass 20% of the total number of representatives. The law provided that each party that has 2% of the national vote be entitled one seat each, and an additional seat for every 2% of the vote thereafter until a party has three seats. This means that a party can win the maximum three seats if it surpasses 6% of the national vote.
While the law was first used for the 1998 election, and several parties did meet the 2% quota during the succeeding elections, they did not fill up the required 20% allocation for party-list representatives of the constitution. Furthermore, the votes for parties that had more than 6% of the vote were considered wasted. Ateneo de Manila University mathematics professor Felix Muga II said that "Any seat allocation formula that imposes a seat-capping mechanism on the party-list proportional representation voting system contradicts the social justice provision of the 1987 Constitution."
Any vacancy is filled by the person next in line on the list; in cases where a seated sectoral representative switches parties, that representative loses their seat and the person next in line on the list assumes the seat.
Note: Majority of the parties were disqualified after the election.
In 2000, the Veterans Federation Party (VFP), the Akbayan! Citizens' Action Party and several other parties sued the COMELEC which led a case in the Supreme Court; the court ruling changed the way how the seats are allocated for the winning parties. In 1998, only 14 representatives were elected out of 13 winning parties, well short of the then 52 representatives needed to fill up 20% of the House. The so-called "Panganiban formula," named after Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban, calculates that the number of seats a party will win is dependent on the number of votes of the party with the highest number of votes.
The court maintained the four inviolable parameters:
First, the twenty percent allocation – the combined number of all party-list congressmen shall not exceed twenty percent of the total membership of the House of Representatives, including those elected under the party list.
Second, the two percent threshold – only those parties garnering a minimum of two percent of the total valid votes cast for the party-list system are “qualified” to have a seat in the House of Representatives;
Third, the three-seat limit – each qualified party, regardless of the number of votes it actually obtained, is entitled to a maximum of three seats; that is, one “qualifying” and two additional seats.
Fourth, proportional representation – the additional seats which a qualified party is entitled to shall be computed “in proportion to their total number of votes.”
The court came up with the following procedure on how to determine how many seats a party wins. First, the party with the highest number of votes gets at least one seat. It can win additional seats for every 2% of the national vote until it reaches the three-seat limit.
For the other parties surpassing the 2% threshold, they all automatically win one seat; additional seats will be won according to the following formula.
The product, disregarding integers, is the number of additional seats for the party.
Prior to the adopting the "Panganiban formula," the court considered applying the Niemayer formula used in the allocation of seats in the German Bundestag. However, since R.A. 7941 limits the maximum number of seats for each party to three, of the existence of a 2% quota, and that 20% of the seats can be filled up, the court instead devised the formula above to ensure that the 20% allocation for sectoral representatives would not be exceeded, the 2% threshold will be upheld, the three-seat limit enforced and the proportional representation be respected. The formula was first used in determining the result of the 2001, and was first applied in the 2004 elections.
The use of this formula by the COMELEC had been labeled by certain groups as to "annihilate independent voices in the House," according to Akbayan representative Etta Rosales. The court upheld this in subsequent cases, such as the Partido ng Manggagawa vs. COMELEC and Citizens' Battle Against Corruption vs. COMELEC.
Panganiban in 2010 remarked in a lecture at the Ateneo Law School that "It’s very complicated and there must be an easier formula to compute," adding that the party-list law has to be amended by Congress.
In 2007, another party-list group, the Barangay Association for National Advancement and Transparency (BANAT, now Barangay Natin!) sued the COMELEC for not proclaiming the full number of party-list representatives (they were not among on those who were proclaimed winners). As with the other cases, the Supreme Court condensed all the cases to one case. The court ruled on April 21, 2009 that the 2% election threshold unconstitutional, and stipulated that for every five legislative districts created, one seat for sectoral representatives should be created; this thereby increased the sectoral seats in the 14th Congress from 22 to 55; the Supreme Court, however, upheld the 3-seat cap.
To determine the number of seats for sectoral representatives, the formula for the quotient is:
To get the first guaranteed seat, a sectoral party or organization should at least get 2% of the total votes cast for partly list elections. The formula for the quotient is:
If the total number of guaranteed seats awarded is less than the total number of seats reserved for sectoral representatives (S), the unassigned seats will awarded in the second round of seat allocation. To get the number of additional seats, this formula will be followed.
If the total number of seats awarded after two rounds is still less than the total number of seats reserved for sectoral representatives (S), the remaining seats will be assigned to sectoral organizations next in rank (one seat each organization) whose result is 0 until all available seats are completely distributed.
This is essentially a Hare quota, with the following exceptions:
Senator Joker Arroyo criticized the ruling of the Supreme Court, saying that the court "overreached itself and engaged in judicial legislation." Arroyo later compared with parties with between "155,000 to 197,000 votes... a measly 1 percent to 1.24 percent of the votes" to a city which needs a population of 250,000 or more to obtain its own legislative district.
|Method||First seat||Second seat||Third seat|
|R.A. 7941||2% of vote||4% of vote||6% of vote|
|VFP vs. COMELEC||2% of the vote||Party with most votes: 4% of the vote||Party with most votes: 6% of the vote|
|Other parties: Total votes divided by votes of the party with most votes; quotient will be multiplied by the number of seats the party with the most votes have. Product, disregarding decimals, is the number of seats.|
|BANAT vs. COMELEC||2% of the vote||Hare quota, without decimals, from the seats that are not yet allocated.|
|If quota has not been met, parties with less than 1% of the preferences will get one seat until quota is met.|
In 2010, there are 57 party-list seats being contested, with 29,311,294 valid votes cast, and 12 parties having at least 2% of the vote.
Ako Bicol Political Party topped the vote, receiving 1,524,006 votes or 5.20% of the vote.
Akbayan Citizens' Action Party received 1,061,947 votes or 3.62% of the vote.
Alagad received 227,281 or 0.78% of the vote.
While the party-list system has been used by some sectors that have not been able to participate in government in order to have a voice in Congress, allegations from left-leaning party-list organizations state that several parties were used as fronts by then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's ruling administration to further its interests. Parties such as 1-UTAK, purportedly representing transport groups, and PACYAW, which claims to advocate athletes and sports personnel, have government officials for nominees. The first nominee of Ang Galing Pinoy, for instance, a group claiming to represent security guards and tricycle drivers, was former Pampanga 2nd district representative Mikey Arroyo, the son of the former president; Arroyo won a seat through Ang Galing Pinoy in the 2010 election.
On the other hand, a disqualification case had been brought up against the left-leaning parties in the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (New Patriotic Alliance) bloc including Bayan Muna (Nation First), Kabataan Party-list (Youth Party-list), GABRIELA Women's Party, and Anakpawis. The case alleged that the personalities in these parties were merely pursuing "ideological objectives" within Congress to support the outlawed Communist Party of the Philippines' objective of overthrowing the ruling system through "bloody means."
In 2002, the Supreme Court ruled in Ang Bagong Bayani-OFW Labor Party vs. COMELEC that nominees "must be Filipino citizens belonging to marginalized and unrepresented sectors, organizations and parties, as the constitution intended to give genuine power to the people, not only by giving more law to those who have less in life, but more so by enabling them to become veritable lawmakers themselves."
In the same BANAT vs. COMELEC case stated above, while the ponencia thereof pointed out that neither the 1987 Constitution nor R.A. 7941 prohibits major political parties from participating in the party-list election, it was emphasized that they must do so by establishing or forming coalitions with sectoral organizations for electoral or political purposes. In fact, Associate Justice Antonio Carpio noted that "it is not necessary that the party-list organization's nominee 'wallow in poverty, destitution and infirmity' as there is no financial status required by the law." This effectively allowed anyone to be nominated by a party participating in the party-list election.
However, by a vote of 8-7, the Supreme Court still decided to continue disallowing major political parties from participating in the party-list elections, directly or indirectly.
|Total party-list votes||Turnout||Percent of party-list votes from turnout|
Methods of determining winners in party-list proportional representation: