The jurisdiction of the COMELEC over petitions for cancellation of registration of any political party, organization or coalition is derived from Section 2 (5), Article IX-C of the Constitution, which states:
Sec, 2. The Commission on Elections shall exercise the following powers and functions:
x x x x
(5) Register, after sufficient publication, political parties, organizations, or coalitions which, in addition to other requirements, must present their platform or program of government; and accredit citizens’ arms of the Commission on Elections. Religious denominations and sects shall not be registered. Those which seek to achieve their goals through violence or unlawful means, or refuse to uphold and adhere to this Constitution, or which are supported by any foreign government shall likewise be refused registration.
Financial contributions from foreign governments and their agencies to political parties, organizations, coalitions, or candidates related to elections constitute interference in national affairs, and when accepted, shall be an additional ground for the cancellation of their registration with the Commission, in addition to other penalties that may be prescribed by law.
Based on the provision above, the Constitution grants the COMELEC the authority to register political parties, organizations or coalitions, and the authority to cancel the registration of the same on legal grounds. The said authority of the COMELEC is reflected in Section 6 of R.A. No. 7941, which provides:
Section 6. Refusal and/or Cancellation of Registration. — The Comelec may motu proprio or upon verified complaint of any interested party, refuse or cancel, after due notice and hearing, the registration of any national, regional or sectoral party, organization or coalition on any of the following grounds:
(1) It is a religious sect or denomination, organization or association organized for religious purposes;
x x x
It is, therefore, clear that the COMELEC has jurisdiction over the instant petition for cancellation of the registration of the ABC Party-List.
In the case of the party-list nominees/representatives, it is the HRET that has jurisdiction over contests relating to their qualifications. Although it is the party-list organization that is voted for in the elections, it is not the organization that sits as and becomes a member of the House of Representatives, but it is the party-list nominee/representative who sits as a member of the House of Representatives.
The members of the House of Representatives are provided for in Section 5, Article VI of the Constitution:
Sec. 5. (1). The House of Representatives shall be composed of not more than two hundred and fifty members, unless otherwise fixed by law, who shall be elected from legislative districts apportioned among the provinces, cities, and the Metropolitan Manila area in accordance with the number of their respective inhabitants, and on the basis of a uniform and progressive ratio, and those who, as provided by law, shall be elected through a party‑list system of registered national, regional, and sectoral parties or organizations.
Thus, the members of the House of Representatives are composed of the members who shall be elected from legislative districts and those who shall be elected through a party-list system of registered national, regional, and sectoral parties or organizations.
Abayon v. House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal held:
x x x x [F]rom the Constitution’s point of view, it is the party-list representatives who are “elected” into office, not their parties or organizations. These representatives are elected, however, through that peculiar party-list system that the Constitution authorized and that Congress by law established where the voters cast their votes for the organizations or parties to which such party-list representatives belong.
Once elected, both the district representatives and the party-list representatives are treated in like manner. They have the same deliberative rights, salaries, and emoluments. They can participate in the making of laws that will directly benefit their legislative districts or sectors. They are also subject to the same term limitation of three years for a maximum of three consecutive terms.
It may not be amiss to point out that the Party-List System Act itself recognizes party-list nominees as “members of the House of Representatives,” thus:
Sec. 2. Declaration of Policy. – The State shall promote proportional representation in the election of representatives to the House of Representatives through a party-list system of registered national, regional and sectoral parties or organizations or coalitions thereof, which will enable Filipino citizens belonging to the marginalized and underrepresented sectors, organizations and parties, and who lack well-defined political constituencies but who could contribute to the formulation and enactment of appropriate legislation that will benefit the nation as a whole, to become members of the House of Representatives. Towards this end, the State shall develop and guarantee a full, free and open party system in order to attain the broadest possible representation of party, sectoral or group interests in the House of Representatives by enhancing their chances to compete for and win seats in the legislature, and shall provide the simplest scheme possible. (Underscoring supplied)
Since the representative of the elected party-list organization becomes a member of the House of Representatives, contests relating to the qualifications of the said party-list representative is within the jurisdiction of the HRET, as Section 17, Article VI of the Constitution provides:
Sec. 17. The Senate and the House of Representatives shall each have an Electoral Tribunal which shall be the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of their respective Members.
x x x [P]arty-list nominees are “elected members” of the House of Representatives no less than the district representatives are, the HRET has jurisdiction to hear and pass upon their qualifications. By analogy with the cases of district representatives, once the party or organization of the party-list nominee has been proclaimed and the nominee has taken his oath and assumed office as member of the House of Representatives, the COMELEC’s jurisdiction over election contests relating to his qualifications ends and the HRET’s own jurisdiction begins.
Therefore, the jurisdiction of the HRET over contests relating to the qualifications of a party-list nominee or representative is derived from Section 17, Article VI of the Constitution, while the jurisdiction of the COMELEC over petitions for cancellation of registration of any national, regional or sectoral party, organization or coalition is derived from Section 2 (5), Article IX-C of the Constitution.
In sum, the COMELEC en banc had jurisdiction over the petition for cancellation of the registration and accreditation of petitioner ABC Party-List for alleged violation of Section 6 (1) of R.A. No. 7941.