SC junks plea to extend voters' registration

THE Supreme Court (SC) dismissed Tuesday a petition filed by the Kabataan Party-list to extend the voters' registration until January 8, 2016 for lack of merit.

"An extension for filing applications can no longer be permitted at this point as it will gravely affect Commission on Election's (Comelec) rigid and strict timeline," the SC said.

James Jimenez, the poll body's spokesperson, said the Comelec welcomed the high court's ruling.

"Needless to say, the Comelec agrees with the Court's ruling. All that is left is to acknowledge those who heeded the call to register and validate their biometrics, within the 17-month period that the Comelec had set aside for that purpose," he said in a statement.

Kabataan party-list Representative Terry Ridon, meanwhile, expressed his "utmost disappointment" over the decision.

"It is unfortunate that the SC decided to dismiss the plea for voter registration extension, as it will bar potential new voters who have yet to register to participate in the upcoming polls," he said.

On October 15, Ridon requested for the extension of the voters' registration period from October 31 stipulated in Comelec Resolution No. 9853 to January 8, 2016.

Ridon said that under the law, the deadline of application for registration of voters should be on 8 January 2016, which is 120 days before a regular election, and not on 31 October 2015, which is 69 days earlier than prescribed by law.

The Comelec on November 7 disagreed with the petitioners on the importance of the 120 day-period in RA 8189 as they said that they have the authority to fix deadline for filing applications for registration.

The Comelec also pointed out that they had to set the deadline for filing of applications for registration October 31, 2015, otherwise its preparations for the May 2016 elections would be gravely prejudiced.

The high court, in its resolution, agreed with the Comelec that the 120 days is not the reckoning point for determining the last day for filing of applications for registration because the law providing for the 120/90 day periods only determines when registration is no longer allowed.

"It does not mandate that the period for registration should be up to that time," the court said.

The court also stated that the dismissal of the petitioners' case is also due to their failure to give justifiable reasons for not filing their voters' registration on the registration period.

"Petitioners had not given any justifiable reason for failing to register within the prescribed period and also for waiting until the last minute to file their application," the court said.

Further, the court said the Comelec had given voters sufficient time to file their applications for registration from May 6, 2014 to October 31, 2015.

Given the fact that the voters had been given enough time, the court said that the failure of some people to register must not be blamed on the Comelec.

In a separate petition filed last October 15, Ridon asked the Comelec to conduct local absentee voting for business process outsourcing (BPO) workers. (With FP/Sunnex)

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