SC affirms ‘No Bio, No Boto’

By , on December 17, 2015

Supreme Court of the Philippines (Photo courtesy of PCIJ)
Supreme Court of the Philippines (Photo courtesy of PCIJ)

MANILA—The Supreme Court (SC) of the Philippines has lifted the restraining order on the Commission on Election’s (Comelec) No Bio, No Boto policy, following the dismissal of Kabataan Partylist’s petition seeking the declaration of Comelec’s policy as unconstitutional.

“The petition is dismissed due to lack of merit.  The temporary restraining order issued by this Court on Dec. 1, 2015 is consequently dissolved,” the high court ruled.

“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,” Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista was quoted as saying in a Rappler report.

The youth group has earlier told the SC that the implementation of No Bio, No Boto policy of the Comelec would prevent 2.5 million registered voters from participating in the 2016 election.

“The Comelec’s technical predicament stems from the fact that the poll body excluded the estimated 2.5 million active voters without biometrics in the forward planning for the upcoming elections, despite the fact that these voters have already participated in past elections and are well in their right to participate in the next polls, if not for the assailed “No Bio, No Boto” policy. It implies that the respondent has in fact systematically planned to disenfranchise the said number of registered voters, even from the beginning of the election preparations,” read the petition filed by Kabataan Partylist.

“By consistently raising alarm over ‘flying voters,’ is the Comelec insinuating that there is as much as 2.5 million ‘flying voters’ in the country? Without actual data stratifying the identities and number of registered voters without biometric information, neither party can assert the exact reason why 2.5 million have failed to submit themselves to Comelec again between May 2014 and October 2015. Whether they are actually ‘flying voters,’ and whether the lapse has been on the part of Comelec or of the voter, the certain fact is this: 2.5 million registered voters cannot vote at the next elections,” they added.

Comelec insisted that the No Bio, No Boto policy will commence as it is based in the law. The poll body also took into consideration the limited time it has to adjust on the changes had the SC declared their policy as unconstitutional.

“It’s very good news for the Comelec because we don’t have to revise the POPs. It’s very hard to put back the names of voters (without biometrics),” Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon was quoted as saying in a Manila Bulletin report.

Bautista also reminded voters to validate their biometrics in order to vote in 2016.

“As we said before, those who have not validated their biometrics can do so after the May elections so that they can still vote in the barangay elections. There will be sufficient period for these voters to do their biometrics validation after May 2016,” she said in the same report.