MANILA -- Housing rights organizations on Monday filed a petition letter to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to ban demolitions during the election period.

Urban Poor Associates (UPA), Community Organizers Multiversity (COM), and Community Organization of the Philippine Enterprise Foundation (Cope), brought with them a one-meter high improvised precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machine that emits a big ballot saying, “No to Demolition.”

UPA, an organization that concentrates on evictions of urban poor people, pointed out that there are 804,562 urban poor voters that could be disenfranchised because of the on-going massive demolition and distant relocation conducted by the government.

“This May 2010 election is expected to create change in the Philippine governance and it is a person's right to exercise their right to vote and to elect leaders. Hence not a single voter should be denied this right. Forced evictions and relocating informal settlers to distant places in time of election is unlawful as they will surely disenfranchise members of the urban poor,” said the group's legal counsel Bienvenido Salinas.

In its press statement, the groups cited the Philippine constitution upholds a person's right to vote.

Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal meanwhile said that the commission is not the right venue for their concern.

"Why can't they vote?" said Larrazabal, adding that registered voters should find all the possible means to exercise their right to vote. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)