SC turns down bid to extend voters’ registration
Voters have been given enough time by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to file their applications for registration, the Supreme Court said as it dismissed the petition filed by Kabataan party-list group seeking an extension of voters’ registration of up to January 8, 2016.
“Comelec had given voters sufficient time to file their applications for registration (from May 6, 2014 to Oct. 31, 2015), but these voters failed to do so for causes not attributable to the Comelec,” the high court, through Information Chief Theodore Te, said at a press conference Tuesday.
“Petitioners had not given any justifiable reason for failing to register within the prescribed period and also for waiting until the last minute to file their application,” Te added.
Kabataan Party-list group in their petition said Section 8 of the Voter’s Registration Act provides that “the personal filing of application of registration of voters shall be conducted daily in the office of the Election Officer during regular office hours. No registration shall, however, be conducted during the period starting one hundred twenty days before a regular election and ninety days before a special election.”
“Despite this provision, Comelec has illegally set the deadline of the voter’s registration on October 31, 2015, pursuant to Resolution No. 9853 and Resolution No. 9981,” petitioners led by Kabataan party-list Representative Terry Ridon said.
The Oct. 31 deadline, according to petitioners, is 69 days less than what is prescribed under the law.
But the high court, in its resolution, agreed with the Comelec that the 120 days is not the reckoning point of determining the last day for filing of applications for registration.
“The law providing for the 120/90 day periods only determines when registration is no longer allowed. It does not mandate that the period for registration should be up to that time.”
Te explained that the high court also agreed with Comelec that it is allowed to lengthen the 120 and 90 day period of “no registration” on account of administrative necessities and other exigencies.
“The Court noted that there are certain pre-election acts that are dependent upon the completion of registration and that requiring the Comelec to extend the period for filing applications for registration will gravely affect its rigid and strict timeline. Major changers to the Comelec’s timeline, like an extension for filing applications, can no longer be permitted at this point without jeopardizing the entire preparation for the 2016 elections,” Te added.
Earlier, the poll body said more than 52 million have already registered for the 2016 polls. It is eyeing some 56 million voters for the 2016 elections, up from the 52 million voters in the 2013 mid-term elections.
There were 9.6 million voters without biometrics data when the poll body opened the voter’s registration in May last year.
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