Kabataan Party-list welcomes issuance of TRO vs. ‘No Bio, No Boto’

December 2, 2015 6:37 am 

By Sammy F. Martin

MANILA, Dec. 1 (PNA) — Kabataan Party-list welcomed Tuesday the decision of the Supreme Court en banc to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the ‘No Bio, No Boto’ scheme of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), effectively enjoining the poll body from deactivating the registration records of voters who failed to undergo biometric validation.

“We welcome the issuance of a TRO against the ‘No Bio, No Boto’ policy as it is an immediate relief for over three million registered voters who stand to illegally lose their right of suffrage in the May 9, 2016 national and local elections without the benefit of due process due to this patently unconstitutional scheme,” Kabataan Party-list Rep. Terry Ridon said.

“While it is good that the SC has addressed this grave and urgent concern speedily, the youth will remain vigilant and on guard until ‘No Bio, No Boto’ is declared unconstitutional with finality,” Ridon added.

On Nov. 25, Kabataan Party-list filed before the Supreme Court G.R. No 221318, which is a petition for certiorari and prohibition which assailed the constitutionality of the “No Bio, No Boto” policy of the COMELEC.

In the said 32-page petition, Kabataan Party-list sought for the exercise of judicial review to assail the constitutionality of the deactivation of registration of voters without biometrics and enjoin the implementation of provisions of Republic Act No.10367 or the Mandatory Biometrics Law and the nullification of COMELEC Resolution No. 9721, Resolution No. 9863, and Resolution No. 10013, which are all related to deactivation of voter registration records in the May 9, 2016 National and Local Elections.

Assisted by legal counsel Atty. Krissy Conti, petitioners include Cong. Ridon, Kabataan Partylist 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 aggrieved parties Arlene Clarisse Julve and Sining Marfori, both of whom stand to lose their right to vote due to the assailed law and regulations.

“Republic Act No. 10367 and its implementing regulations are unconstitutional as these impose an unconstitutional, additional substantive requirement imposed on the exercise of suffrage, thus violating Section 1, Article V of the 1987 Constitution,” the petitioners said, noting that the 1987 Constitution explicitly states that “[n]o literacy, property, or other substantive requirement shall be imposed on the exercise of suffrage.”

Petitioners noted that despite COMELEC’s “No Bio, No Boto” campaign, official data from the poll body showed that only 3,599,906 registered voters have undergone the mandatory biometrics validation procedure, as of September 30, 2015.

COMELEC also revealed that a total of 3,059,601 registered voters remain without biometrics data as of Sept. 30, 2015, and thus stand to lose their right to vote. According to COMELEC, this figure is equivalent to 5.86 percent of the total fifty-two million two hundred thirty-nine thousand four hundred eighty-eight (52,239,488) registered voters for the 2016 national and local elections.

“Biometrics validation also gravely violates due process as it an unreasonable deprivation of the constitutional right to vote for millions of Filipinos who have failed to register their biometric information despite existing and active registration – in effect a voter’s re-registration – for various reasons whether personal or institutional,” the petitioners added.

Just last month, Kabataan Party-list and several youth groups also filed a petition before the SC to question the October 31 deadline for voters’ registration set by COMELEC. The SC has also ordered COMELEC to comment on the said petition. (PNA)



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