SC junks petition to extend voters' registration
MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday, December 8, junked the petition of Kabataan party-list to extend voters' registration for the 2016 elections for lack of merit.
In its resolution, the High Court sided with the Commission on Elections (Comelec), after the poll body argued that the 120-day "no registration" period under the law does not determine the last day for the filing of registration applications.
Kabataan earlier challenged Comelec Resolution No. 9853 and 9981, which set the deadline for voters' registration on October 31.
But the group said that the deadline should have been set on January 8, 2016, citing Republic Act 8189 or the Voter's Registration Act of 1996. Under this law, voters' registration will not be allowed 120 days before a regular election.
By setting the deadline more than two months earlier than what the law provides, the party-list group said the Comelec resolutions were unconstitutional "for being a manifest usurpation of the legislative power of Congress and a violation of the system of continuing registration of voters under RA 8189."
But in its comment submitted on December 7, Comelec argued that the 120-day period only fixes the minimum period when registration will no longer be allowed.
The poll body also said that it had to set the deadline on October 31 to make way for its preparations for the May 2016 elections.
The SC concurred with the Comelec's argument, saying the 120-day period "does not mandate that the period for registration should be up to that time," the court said.
The high court also noted the poll body's authority to extend the "no registration" periods.
"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," the SC said.
The court added, "Major changes 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."
The SC also said that the petitioners were not able to provide justifiable reasons for failing to register during the 18-month registration period provided by the poll body.
"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," the court said.
Reacting to the SC decision, Kabataan Party-list Representative Terry Ridon said he has yet to receive a copy of the resolution, but added that the group is disappointed with the ruling.
"It is unfortunate that the SC decided unfavorably in this case, as it will bar potential new voters who have yet to register to participate in the upcoming polls," Ridon said. – Rappler.com
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