‘No Bio, No Boto’ rule a lesson for voters
Michael Vencynth H. Braga/JMD (The Freeman) - December 17, 2015 - 9:00am

CEBU, Philippines - The Commission on Elections-Cebu has considered the decision of the Supreme Court sustaining the constitutionality of the biometrics law as a lesson for the electorates to take advantage of long registration period.

Lawyer Lionel Marco Castillano, Comelec-Cebu election supervisor, noted that registered voters who have no biometrics data were given since May 2014 until October 2015, or more than a year, to comply with the requirements yet thousands were still not able to.

He said the Comelec is compelled to deactivate after the October 31 deadline those without biometrics in adherence to Republic Act 10367 (An Act Providing for Mandatory Biometrics Voter Registration).

Under the law, voters who fail to submit the biometrics data will not be allowed to vote in the 2016 elections.

“Comelec is just implementing the law,” Castillano told reporters.

He added that the law aims to cleanse the national voter registry and deter electoral fraud, such as flying voters.

“We could not have a clean election without cleansed voters’ list. Kinahanglan malimpyo aron mawala na nang mga flying voters and double and multiple registrants. What if naay laing mobotar sa ilang pangalan kay wa sila’y picture?” he added.

A total of 74,110 or 2.76 percent of the 2.6 million registered voters in Cebu failed to submit their biometrics data.

In the entire country, at least 2.4 million voters were deactivated, which prompted the Kabataan partylist to lodge a petition assailing the constitutionality of the biometrics law as it is deemed violative to the constitution for limiting the democratic right to suffrage.

But the Supreme Court with the unanimous vote of the 15 magistrates junked the 32-page petition for certiorari and prohibition filed by Kabataan partylist due to lack of merit.

It also lifted the temporary restraining order issued against the implementation of the “No Bio, No Boto” policy.

The SC found sufficient basis to the objective of the law, saying that the regulation was narrowly tailored to achieve the compelling state interest of establishing a clean, complete, permanent and updated list of voters, and was demonstrably the least restrictive means to promote the interest.”

Castillano said the poll body is now confident of clean elections in 2016 with the “cleansed” voters’ list.

He, however, made it clear that those deactivated can still vote in the next elections provided that they will register again after next year’s elections.  (FREEMAN)

ACIRC AN ACT PROVIDING BIOMETRICS BUT THE SUPREME COURT CASTILLANO COMELEC KABATAAN LAWYER LIONEL MARCO CASTILLANO MANDATORY BIOMETRICS VOTER REGISTRATION NO BIO VOTERS
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