MANILA -- The Commission on Elections (Comelec) denied the petition of a Filipino-American group to allow a 28-day extension for the registration of overseas absentee voters, an official said Tuesday.

Comelec Commissioner Armando Velasco, chairman of the committee on overseas absentee voting (OAV), said the seven-member Comelec en banc denied “for lack of time” the petition filed last week by Maritess Saliuentes Bloom and lawyer Loida Nicolas Lewis of the National Federation of Filipino-Americans Association (NaFFAA).

“The petition was denied by en banc unanimously for lack of time to tackle it,” he said in a text message to Sun.Star.

Velasco said it would be an added work for the poll body to screen the applicants and prepare the book of voters, barely three months before the start of absentee voting on April 10.

On their petition last January 8, the group said Filipinos working abroad should be given until September 28, 2009 to register with the Philippine Consulates in their areas.

Citing Section 6 of Republic Act 9189 (Poll Automation Law),which specifies that the 240-day prohibitive period for OAV activities starts on September 28, 2009, NaFFAA said this should be the registration deadline and not August 31 as implemented by the poll body.

Six more party-list groups

In a related development, the list of party-list groups reached 150 as the Comelec approved the application of six other groups.

These are the Alliance for Rural and Agrarian Reconstruction (Araro); Alyansa ng Lumad Mindanao Inc (Alumad); LPG Marketers Association (LPGMA); Alyansa ng OFW Party; National Coalition on Indigenous People’s Action (ANG NCIP); and Bagong Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Samahan ng Sektor ng Transportasyon (Bangon Transport).

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said under Resolution 8745, the six party-list groups, together with 144 others announced last week would be printed on the special paper ballots to be used in the automated polls.

“These names will be added to the final list of party-list groups,” he said.

The printing of ballots is set on January 25. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)