MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) has lifted its temporary restraining order (TRO), which prevented the Commission on Elections (Comelec) from implementing its resolution allowing persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) to participate in the national and local elections.
In a nine-page resolution penned by Associate Justice Jhosep Lopez and released to the public on August 26, 2022, the SC unanimously dismissed the petition of lawyer Victor Aguinaldo against the Comelec resolution and said it failed to present an actual case that would need a judicial review.
“Wherefore, the instant petition is dismissed. The temporary restraining order issued on April 9, 2016 is lifted thereby allowing the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to fully implement Resolution No. 9371 in the upcoming and succeeding elections,” the High Court said.
In further explaining their resolution, the SC said Aguinaldo failed to meet the requisites for judicial review, which include substantial interest of the party raising the constitutional question.
“Petitioner had not shown any such circumstances. Absent a clear showing of a diminished right for which petitioner will suffer because of the implementation of the assailed Comelec resolution, it cannot be said that a conflict of legal rights exists. On this score alone, the instant petition is already dismissible,” the High Court noted.
On the aspect of legal standing, the SC said Aguinaldo did not elaborate how the implementation of Comelec resolution would affect him.
“As a general rule, the challenger must have a personal and substantial interest in the case such that he has sustained, or will sustain, direct injury as a result of its enforcement. Petitioner’s material averments fail to show how he stands to be affected by the implementation of Resolution No. 9371,” the SC said.
“He does not appear to be a PDL voter covered by the Comelec issuance, or an official tasked with implementing its provisions. Essentially, petitioner has no interest in this supposed controversy.”
In 2012, Aguinaldo filed the petition seeking to declare Comelec Resolution No. 9371 unconstitutional. The SC promulgated the petition on March 6, 2012.
Aguinaldo, in his petition, questioned the validity of Comelec resolution because according to him, it failed to provide its own implementing rules and regulations. He added that the policy did not undergo public consultations and that it violated the equal protection of laws by favoring PDL voters over other types of voters.
The resolution covers the following:
- Confined in jail, formally charged for any crime/s and awaiting/undergoing trial;
- Serving a sentence of imprisonment for less than one year;
- Whose conviction of a crime involving disloyalty to the duly constituted government .