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SC lifts TRO on Comelec’s ‘No Bio, No Boto’ rule

/ 02:10 PM December 16, 2015

The Supreme Court (SC) has lifted the restraining order on the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) “No Bio, No Boto” policy as it dismissed the petition filed by Kabataan party-list for lack of merit.

“The petition is dismissed due to lack of merit. The temporary restraining order issued by this Court on Dec. 1, 2015 is consequently dissolved,” the high court said through Associate Justice Estela Perlas Bernabe.

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READ: SC issues TRO on Comelec’s ‘No Bio, No Boto’ rule

Last Nov. 25, the group urged the high court to stop the implementation of some provisions of Republic Act 10367 or the “Act Providing for Mandatory Biometrics Voter Registration,” saying it is unconstitutional because it imposes an additional substantive requirement.

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It explained that the Comelec policy is another imposition that is contrary to the 1987 Constitution which explicitly states that “no literacy, property, or other substantive requirement shall be imposed on the exercise of suffrage.”

The petitioners—Kabataan party-list Rep.Terry Ridon and the group’s president Marjohara Tucay, Sarah Elago, president of the National Union of Students of the Philippines, Vencer Crisostomo, chairperson of Anakbayan, Marc Lino Abila, national president of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines, Einstein Recedes, deputy secretary-general of Anakbayan, Charisse Bañez, chairperson of the League of Filipino Students and Arlene Clarisse Julve and Sining Marfori—further explained that the “No Bio, No Boto” policy is incompatible with the fact that laws should be applied prospectively and not retrospectively.

Likewise, they argued that imposing the additional requirement would violate the due process clause in the constitution as it constitutes an unreasonable deprivation of the right to vote of millions of Filipinos in next year’s elections.

They also cited data from the Comelec to buttress their point that despite its “No Bio, No Boto” policy, only 3,599,906 registered voters have undergone the mandatory biometrics validation procedure as of September 30 this year.

READ: Comelec fears ‘flying voters’ with SC TRO on ‘no bio, no boto’

The same data, they added also revealed that a total of 3,059,601 registered voters remain without biometrics data on the same date.

They said the data showed this figure is equivalent to 5.86 percent of the total 52,239,488 registered voters for the 2016 national and local elections.

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But the high court, in dismissing the petition, distinguished “qualification” as far as suffrage and the concept of “registration.”

The high court said “registration” is the only step towards voting but it is not one of the elements to determine if a voter is qualified or not.

“Thus, unless it is shown that a registration requirement rises to the level of a literacy, property or other substantive requirement as contemplated by the Framers of the Constitution—that is, one which propagates a socio-economic standard which is bereft of any rational basis to a person’s ability to intelligently cast his vote and to further the public good—the same cannot be struck down as unconstitutional, as in this case,” the high court said. IDL

Originally posted: 12:08 PM December 16th, 2015

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TAGS: Comelec, Elections 2016, Kabataan party list, No Bio No Boto, Supreme Court, temporary restraining order
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