Poll watchdogs want SC to nullify ban on taking photos during election
MANILA, Philippines — Poll watchdogs on Wednesday asked the Supreme Court to nullify the ban against taking of photographs during elections.
In a 26-page petition, they called on the Court to strike down Resolution No. 10088 issued by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in 2016 that prohibited the use of digital cameras and cellular phones in polling precincts.
The petitioners, which include the AES Watch, Buklod Pamilya, Capitol Christian Leadership, Citizen’s Crime Watch, Connecting Businessmen in the Marketplace to Christ, Latter Rain Harvest Ministries, One Vote Our Hope, Upper Room Brethren Church, said the poll body committed grave abuse of discretion in imposing the ban.
They said that the ban “has a chilling effect of hanging a Damocles sword on the head of every watcher and voter by imposing a sweeping ban against digital cameras and cellular phones without specifying the start time and end time of the ban.”
The petitioners also said that the Comelec resolution is contrary to the Automated Election Law, which allows political parties, candidates or citizen’s arms to examine and test the machines to make sure that the system is operating properly.
The groups pointed out that the Comelec, in its previous General Instructions, has allowed taking of photographs to record proceedings and incidents provided that the secrecy and sanctity of votes are protected.
“The basic provision on taking photographs has been in force for decades since the December 3, 1985 approval of the Omnibus Election Code and, through thick and thin, has been a verbatim part of a long line of Comelec General Instructions even under the automation set-up,” the petitioners argued.
The petitioners likewise urged the Court to compel the Comelec to fully implement its ruling on the voter verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) and issue voter’s receipts during the May 13 polls.
The VVPAT consists of physical paper records of voter ballots after voters entered their votes into the system.
“Respondent Comelec even made matters worse by redesigning the VVPAT so that respondent Smartmatic becomes the auditor of the VVPAT, which is the reverse of the Supreme Court ruling empowering voters to audit the VVPAT and not the other way around,” the petition read.
“Neither the watchers nor the voters not the members of the public have any plain, speedy, adequate remedy in the ordinary courts of law as respondent Comelec has proven and continues to prove its decade-long fanatical obsession for favoring respondent Smartmatic,” it added. /ee
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