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Comelec warns of ‘no-el’ due to SC suspension of ‘no bio, no boto’

Mayen Jaymalin - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Commission on Elections Chairman Andres Bautista yesterday warned of a possible postponement of next year’s elections if the Supreme Court (SC) fails to lift the temporary restraining order on the Comelec’s “No Bio, No Boto” campaign.

“TRO materially impacts our election preparations. We hope that SC will give us a chance to explain before issuing TRO,” Bautista texted The STAR.

Bautista said he is set to submit this week the Comelec’s answer to the petition against the poll body’s campaign in an effort to prod the SC to immediately decide on the issue.

“I was thinking of writing the Supreme Court and notifying them of the urgency of resolving the case and lifting the temporary restraining order (TRO), otherwise we may have a problem with that,” Bautista told dzBB in Filipino.

The Supreme Court last week issued the TRO in acting on the petition of several groups led by Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon that asked the high court to stop the implementation of the Comelec policy.

The petitioners argued that the Comelec’s campaign violates the Constitution as it adds a substantive requirement for Filipinos to be able to exercise their right of suffrage.

The Comelec policy could lead to disenfranchisement of three million voters who were unable to have their biometrics taken, the petitioners added.

They also questioned the implementation of the law on mandatory biometrics voter registration under Republic Act 10367.

The Comelec maintains that it is merely implementing the provisions of RA 10367 or the Mandatory Biometrics Law.

The law mandates the deactivation of voters without biometrics.

“I hope they (SC) realize that the Comelec is doing all it can to meet the deadline but if we could not make it happen like in this case what could we do? Probably we might have to postpone the elections and that could be a disaster,” Bautista said.

The Supreme Court gave Comelec until Dec. 11 to submit its comment on the petition.

According to Bautista, the TRO issued by the high court could delay the Comelec schedule in coming out with the official list of registered voters by Dec. 15.

He said the TRO could affect the ongoing preparations for the upcoming national and local elections.

Bautista said the Comelec is focusing its efforts on calibrating the machines that would be used in the elections.

He stressed the machines should be tested in trial runs before calibrating them for final use on Election Day.

“We are finalizing the election management system, consolidation and counting system, the source code review of the vote counting machines… so many things to do. If you stop one phase of the operation, the others would be affected as well,” Bautista said.

Bautista stressed the importance of finalizing the official list of voters.

He said the Comelec is already working on a tight schedule in preparing for the upcoming polls.

Bautista said the Comelec gave voters more than a year to have their biometrics taken so they could vote in next year’s polls.

Bautista questioned the timing of the TRO, saying the petitioners should have questioned the policy earlier before the SC.

“If they saw something wrong about the law, they should have questioned it earlier. Why only now?” he remarked.

 

ACIRC BAUTISTA COMELEC ELECTION DAY ELECTIONS CHAIRMAN ANDRES BAUTISTA MANDATORY BIOMETRICS LAW NO BIO REPUBLIC ACT SUPREME COURT TERRY RIDON TRO
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