Party-list representation in the House of Representatives of the Philippines

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Graph showing voter participation in party-list elections.
"Party-list representatives" redirects here. For party-list representatives elsewhere, see list MP. For the political concept, see party-list proportional representation.

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 predominately 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. Under-represented sectoral groups, such as labor, peasant, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, women, youth, and other sectors as may be provided by law except the religious sector, may participate in the party-list election. The 1987 Constitution of the Philippines created the party-list system.

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 Commission on Elections (COMELEC) and Supreme Court cases.

Party-list representatives are determined in a party-list election, where the voter votes for the party and not for the nominees (closed list), the votes are then arranged in descending order, with the parties that won at least 2% of the national vote are given one seat, with additional seats determined by a formula depending on the number of votes garnered, with no party winning more than three seats. If the number of sectoral representatives does not reach 20% of the total number of representatives, parties that haven't won seats are given a seat each until the 57 seats are filled up. A voter therefore has two parallel votes in House of Representatives elections—for district representative and for the party-list representative. 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.

Manner of election[edit]


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."[1] 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.

Party-List System Act[edit]

Election Method Legislative districts Sectoral representatives Underhang
20% quota Seats won
2001 VFP 205 51 14 37
2004 VFP 209 52 24 28
2007 VFP 218 54 22 32
BANAT 53 1
2010 BANAT 229 57 56 1

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 should not 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.[2]

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.[3] 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."[4]

Any vacancy will be filled up by the person next in line in the list; in cases where a seated sectoral representative switches parties, that representative will lose one's seat and the person next in line in the list shall assume the seat.

Veterans Federation Party et al. vs. COMELEC[edit]

Party-list results
Note: Majority of the parties were disqualified after the election.
  • Inner ring: Proportion of votes, excluding spoiled/invalid votes.
    • Gray: Parties that did not win seats.
  • Middle ring (2007 only): Proportion of seats won as per VFP vs. COMELEC.
  • Outer ring: Proportion of seats won (for 2007, this is the final allocation as per BANAT vs. COMELEC).
    • Black: Unfilled seats.

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 25 representatives were elected out of 14 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 amount of votes.[5]

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.


TP_s = 1~ \mbox{if}~g\ >= 0.02
TP_s = 2~ \mbox{if}~g\ >= 0.04

TP_s = 3~ \mbox{if}~g\ >= 0.06


  • TPs is the number of seats of the top party.
  • g is the percentage of votes garnered by the sectoral organization,

For the other parties surpassing the 2% threshold, they all automatically win one seat; additional seats will be won according to the following formula.

:\mathrm{S} = (\frac{\mathrm{PV}}{\mathrm{TP}})\times{TP_s}


  • S is the number of seats
  • PV is the votes for the party
  • TP is the votes of the top party.
  • TPs is the number of seats of the top party.

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.[6] 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.[7] The court upheld this in subsequent cases, such as the Partido ng Manggagawa vs. COMELEC and Citizens' Battle Against Corruption vs. COMELEC.[8]

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.[9]


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.[10]

To determine the number of seats for sectoral representatives, the formula for the quotient is:

S = \left(\frac{D}{0.8}\right) \times 0.2
  • S is the number of seats allocated for sectoral representation,
  • D is the total number of district representatives, and
  • D / 0.8 is the total number of members of the House.

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:

g = \frac{P}{V}
  • g is the percentage of votes garnered by the sectoral organization,
  • P is the total number of votes gained by the sectoral organization, and
  • V is the total number of votes cast in the party list representation election.
R_1 = 1~ \mbox{if}~g\ >= 0.02

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.

R_2 =(S-T_1) \times g
  • {R_2} is the total number of additional seats awarded to the sectoral organization,
  • S is the number of seats allocated for party-list representatives,
  • {T_1} is the total number awarded seats ({R_1}) in the first round of seat allocation, and
  • g is the percentage of votes garnered by the sectoral organization.
Note: {R_2} should appear as whole integer.

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 {R_2} result is 0 until all available seats are completely distributed.

T_3 =(S-T_1-T_2)\
  • {T_3} is the total number of sectoral organizations next in rank (in Round 2) to be given with one seat,
  • S is the number of seats allocated for party-list representatives,
  • {T_1} is the total number awarded seats in the first round of seat allocation, and
  • {T_2} is the total number awarded seats in the second round of seat allocation.

This is essentially a Hare quota, with the following exceptions:

  • The 2% election threshold automatically awards parties one seat; this means that the total seats that will be disputed is the difference of the number of party-list seats and the number of parties that surpassed the threshold.
  • The fractional remainder is disregarded. The seats that could've been distributed from the fractional remainders are given to parties that quotas less than 1 after the threshold.
  • The party cannot win more than three seats. With the large amount of parties contesting, this means the share of the votes the parties get are small—in 2010, the party with the most votes (Ako Bicol Political Party) won 5.20% of the vote—the only way a party's votes can be wasted is if its quota after the threshold is 4 or more. This can be affected if several parties surpassed the threshold (thus lessening the amount of seats to be distributed), or if a party wins via a landslide. In 2010, AKB's quota after threshold was 2.33, or, disregarding decimals, 2. This entitled them to 2 additional seats aside from the automatic 1 seat they've won by surpassing the threshold.

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.[11]


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.

  • First round:
R_1 = 1~ \mbox{since}~0.0519 \ >= 0.02
  • Second round:
R_2 =(57-12) \times 0.0519
R_2 =45 \times 0.0519
R_2 =2.3397
Disregarding decimals, R_2 =2
  • Both rounds:
S =1+2=3
  • Hence, AKB won three seats in the House of Representatives.

Akbayan Citizens' Action Party received 1,061,947 votes or 3.62% of the vote.

  • First round:
R_1 = 1~ \mbox{since}~0.0362\ >= 0.02
  • Second round:
R_2 =(57-12) \times 0.0362
R_2 =45 \times 0.0362
R_2 =1.6303
Disregarding decimals, R_2 =1
  • Both rounds:
S =1+1=2
  • Hence, Akbayan won two seats in the House of Representatives.

Alagad received 227,281 or 0.78% of the vote.

  • First round:
R_0 = 0~ \mbox{since}~0.0078 \ >= 0.02
  • Second round: At this point, 35 seats have already been awarded.
R_2 =(57-35) \times 0.0078
R_2 =45 \times 0.0078
R_2 =0.3489
Disregarding decimals, R_2 =0
  • Both rounds:
S =0+0=0
  • However, not all seats have been distributed. Therefore: Alagad won one seat in the House of Representatives.


While the party-list system has been used by some sectors which had not been able to participate in government to have a voice in Congress, allegations from left-leaning party-lists say that several parties had been used as fronts by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration to further their interests. Parties such as 1-UTAK, that represents transport groups, PACYAW, that claims to advocate sports development and others have government officials as nominees.[12] The number one nominee of Ang Galing Pinoy, a group claiming to represent security guards and tricycle drivers, is outgoing Pampanga 2nd district representative Mikey Arroyo, the president's son; Arroyo won a seat in the 2010 election.[13]

On the other hand, a disqualification case had been brought up against the left-leaning parties in the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (New Patriotic Alliance) (Bayan Muna (Nation First), Kabataan Party-list (Youth Party-list), GABRIELA Women's Party, and Anakpawis), as they are just pursuing "ideological objectives" like overthrowing the ruling system through "bloody means."[14]

Ang Bagong Bayani-OFW Labor Party vs. COMELEC[edit]

On 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."[15]


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."[16] 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.


Year #1 party Votes Percent Seats
1998 APEC 503,487 5.50% 3
2001 Bayan Muna 1,708,253 11.30% 3
2004 Bayan Muna 1,203,305 9.46% 3
2007 Buhay 1,169,338 7.30% 3
2010 Ako Bikol 1,524,006 5.20% 3
2013 Buhay 1,270,608 4.60% 3


  1. ^ "CONSTITUTION - Article VI: LEGISLATIVE DEPARTMENT". Commission on Elections. 2009-08-10. Retrieved 2010-11-29. 
  3. ^ Rosario Braid, Florangel (2010-11-09). "Should We Retain Party-List System?". Manila Bulletin. Retrieved 2010-11-29. 
  4. ^ Ordoñez, Elmer (2009-05-02). "‘Reductio ad absurdum’". The Manila Times. Retrieved 2011-04-14. 
  5. ^ Dizon, Nikko (2007-07-02). "Dilemma over partylist formula delays winners’ proclamation". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 2010-11-29. 
  6. ^ "Veterans Federation Party et al. vs. COMELEC". Supreme Court of the Philippines. Retrieved 2010-11-29. 
  7. ^ Dizon, Nikko (2007-06-05). "Only Buhay may get three seats". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 2010-12-30. 
  8. ^ "Mechanism of proportional representation". Philippine Daily Inquirer. 2009-04-23. Retrieved 2011-04-14. 
  9. ^ Legaspi, Anita (2010-11-19). "Ex-SC chief sees urgent need to amend partylist law". Retrieved 2010-11-29. 
  10. ^ Panganiban, Artemio. Party-list imponderables "Party-list imponderables" Check |url= scheme (help). 2009-04-25. Retrieved 2011-04-14. 
  11. ^ Arroyo, Joker (2009-04-28). "Supreme Court and judicial legislation". Manila Bulletin. Retrieved 2011-04-14. 
  12. ^ Calonzo, Andreo (2010-03-27). "‘Arroyo to use party-list seats to win as House Speaker’". Retrieved 2010-04-08. 
  13. ^ "SC: It’s final, Mikey can represent tricycle drivers in Congress". 2011-02-27. Retrieved 2011-04-14. 
  14. ^ "Disqualification of leftist party-list groups eyed". 2010-01-16. Retrieved 2011-04-14. 
  15. ^ Panganiban, Artemio. "Another slap on the Comelec". 2007-05-06. Retrieved 2011-04-14. 
  16. ^ "BANAT vs COMELEC". 2009-04-21. Retrieved 2014-05-08. 

Further reading[edit]

See also[edit]

Methods of determining winners in party-list proportional representation: