The Philippine Supreme Court recently dismissed a petition by the Migrante Sectoral Party to join the partylist candidates for the 2010 elections. The “partylist” parties are intended to represent minority or marginalized interests, such as women and ethnic minorities. There is some dispute as to what that actually means in practice. However, Migrante Sectoral Party claimed to represent a very important and vastly underrepresented constituency – the estimated 12 million Overseas Foreign Workers. These Filipinos appear to be more interested in political reform and economic advancement than domestic Filipinos, yet they are far less likely to vote in elections.
I honestly don’t know how much support the Migrante Sectoral Party has among OFWs. It seems to have done rather poorly in the last two elections. Nonetheless, this case raises an interesting issue. Typically, the Philippine Supreme Court has supported progressive and minority causes. In past cases, it has supported the expansion of the partylist rolls, even when it led to odd results. So why did the Court reject Migrante Sectoral Party’s petition? Migrante Sectoral Party seems to have had an exceptionally weak case.
However, it would be interesting to determine whether the fact that the party represented overseas stakeholders rather than domestic interests. To what extent does this matter? There is some political science research regarding foreign litigants in U.S. courts, but it remains inconclusive. Some researchers have concluded that U.S. judges and juries are more likely to rule against foreign litigants in patent and corporate cases. However, a more comprehensive study finds no correlation between the litigant’s nationality and success in U.S. courts. As such, there’s not enough evidence yet to make wider conclusions about foreigners in courts – this remains a great area for future research.
You can read more about the decision here.