That the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) always invokes the law is expected but it should admit legal infirmities if needed.
That losing party-list nominee Mocha Uson ended up as Deputy Administrator of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) around four months after the May 2019 elections necessitates a review of the one-year ban in the appointment to any government position of losing candidates.
On one hand, the COMELEC claims that losing party-list nominees are not covered by the one-year ban. However, winning party-list nominees are covered by the three-term rule at the House of Representatives (HOR), making them ineligible for another term in case their party-list group wins the next election cycle.
If the party-list representatives are covered by the same rules as their district representatives, then it should follow that the losing party-list nominees should also be treated in the same manner as the losing district representative candidates.
The argument for consistency even becomes stronger when we analyze the recent statement of COMELEC Spokesperson James Jimenez that “[t]he one-year appointment ban on losing candidates applies to the actual party-list and not to its nominees.” This is clearly bereft of logic: Even at the risk of stating the obvious, a party-list group can never be appointed to any government position.
To escape from the current absurdity, we should all push for consistency. It is high time to treat the losing party-list nominees – especially the first, second and third ones – as part of the losing candidates covered by the one-year ban on government appointments. While it is commendable for COMELEC Commissioner Rowena Guanzon to push for the inclusion of losing party-list nominees, the COMELEC as an institution should follow suit toward the harmonization of election rules.
Contact person: Assoc. Prof. Danilo Arao, convenor, Kontra Daya