SC junks petition vs 'No Bio, No Boto'

MANILA (Updated) -- Almost three million voters cannot vote in the 2016 national elections as the Supreme Court (SC) dismissed on Wednesday Kabataan Party-list's petition against the "No Bio, No Boto" policy for lack of merit.

In a special en banc session, the SC junked the group's petition, which sought to declare unconstitutional the Commission on Elections' (Comelec) mandatory biometrics voter registration.

Kabataan Party-List Representative Terry Ridon, who filed the petition on November 25, expressed dismay over the high court's decision.

He said they will file a motion for reconsideration as soon as they receive a copy of the SC's decision.

The high tribunal's ruling has lifted the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued on December 1 against the Comelec in deactivating the registration of over two million voters without biometrics.

Ridon insisted that the biometrics validation deprives constitutional right to vote for millions of Filipinos who have failed to register their biometric information despite existing and active registration.

Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista, for his part, said the poll body welcomed the SC decision.

"We are, of course, very pleased that the SC saw it our way. This will enable us to proceed with the finalization of the list of voters and project of precincts," he said in a text message.

Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon welcomed the good news since the hurdle in their preparations for next year's polls has been removed.

"It's very good news for the Comelec because we don’t have to revise the Project of Precincts. It’s very hard to put back names of voters (without biometrics)," she said in an interview.

Guanzon said that those without biometrics may reactivate their registration after the May 2016 polls.

"Those who have not validated their records using their biometrics, they can do so after the May elections so that they can still vote in the barangay elections," said Guanzon.

A total of 2.5 million voters will not be allowed to participate in next year's polls for not having biometrics, which is required under the Republic Act 10367.

Under the Comelec's "No Bio, No Boto" policy, a voter needs to have his or her biometrics taken before he or she can vote in the 2016 polls.

But in a resolution dated November 3, the Comelec clarified that voters with incomplete or corrupted biometrics data will be allowed to vote.

Earlier, Kabataan partylist also requested the SC to order the Comelec to extend the voters' registration to January 8, 2016.

On December 8, SC junked the party-list group's petition for lack of merit. (With FP/Sunnex)

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