SC denies Comelec appeal vs voting receipts
MANILA, Philippines (6th UPDATE) – The Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday, March 17, said it denied the appeal of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) against issuing voting receipts in the May 9 elections.
In an update past 4 pm on Thursday, SC spokesman Theodore Te said the SC voted 13-0 against the Comelec's motion for reconsideration. He said Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta “submitted a written vote after the justices met over lunch.”
In a media briefing 3 hours earlier, Te said the SC, “with a vote of 12-0, denied the Comelec’s motion for reconsideration.”
Te said the following justices “did not vote or did not leave a vote” on the Comelec’s motion for reconsideration:
- Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio
- Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin
Speaking to reporters shortly before 4 pm, Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista said the poll body “submits” to the High Court, as it vows to hold the elections on May 9 despite this loss.
Petitioner and senatorial candidate Richard Gordon, for his part, said it is now time to implement the law. Gordon said that if the Comelec cannot do it, “the course is to resign.”
“It is our hope that Comelec will now undertake all necessary efforts to implement this provision of the law,” election watchdog Kontra Daya said.
During the oral arguments on Thursday, the Comelec told the SC that the “marginal improvement” of issuing receipts from VCMs is not worth the costs that it entails.
Comelec fears 20-hour voting period
Representing the Comelec, Solicitor General Florin Hilbay said issuing voting receipts, in fact, can heighten the “risk of an election failure.”
He added that issuing voting receipts, for one, can extend the voting period to up to 20 hours.
It can also present “new opportunities for cheating,” as politicians can use the receipts in vote buying.
“Yes, we can physically cram all the activities so that we can meet the May 9 deadline,” Bautista told the SC. “But we will be taking a significant amount of risk, and it may impact the credibility of the elections.”
The Comelec also said last-minute changes due to voting receipts can force the poll body to postpone the elections to May 23.
On the other hand, the Comelec said it can also proceed with the elections as scheduled on May 9, if it does not modify the source code or “master blueprint” of VCMs.
The SC said in its ruling on Thursday: “The Commission on Elections categorically manifested that, if the source code is not amended, the vote-counting machines can still be reconfigured to enable the machines to generate the voter's receipts in time for the May 9, 2016 elections.”
The SC partly used this as basis in junking the Comelec's appeal.
The High Court issued its March 8 ruling based on a petition filed by Gordon and his political party, Bagumbayan, to compel the Comelec to issue voting receipts.
The Comelec failed to comment on Gordon and Bagumbayan’s petition and thus partly lost by default. (READ: Why Comelec failed to defend itself before SC: 'We were busy')
This thrust the Comelec into a state of emergency, which, according to the poll body, might for it to hold manual polls or to postpone the elections. – Rappler.com
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