SC junks petition to extend voters' registration

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 08 2015 03:48 PM

MANILA - The plea to extend voters' registration for the upcoming 2016 synchronized national and local polls has been denied by the Supreme Court (SC).

During Tuesday's last regular en banc session for the year, high court magistrates junked petitioner Kabataan party-list et al's petition urging voters registration to be extended up to January 8, 2016, for lack of merit.

Petitioners, in a petition filed two days before the deadline of registration last October 31, insisted that Commission on Elections (Comelec) Resolution No. 9853, dated February 19, 2014, and Resolution No. 9981, dated August 28, 2015, both of which fix the deadline of application for voters' registration on October 31, 2015, should be nullified and declared unconstitutional for violating Republic Act (RA) No. 8189, also known as the The Voters Registration Act of 1996.

Section 8 (System of Continuing Registration of Voters) of RA No. 8189 states that "[N]o registration shall, however, be conducted during the period starting 120 days before a regular election and 90 days before a special election."

The high court ruled that "120 days is not the reckoning point for determining the last day for filing of applications for registration because the law (RA No. 8189) providing for the 120/90 day periods only determines when registration is no longer allowed."

"[RA No. 8189] does not mandate that the period for registration should be up to that time. The Court also agreed with Comelec that it is allowed to lengthen the 120 and 90 day periods of 'no registration' on account of administrative necessities and other exigencies," said Atty. Theodore Te, SC Public Information Office chief.

The high court noted that "major changes to the Comelec's timeline" would only jeopardize preparations for the 2016 polls.

The high court also said the poll body must not bear the blame as to why some voters failed to beat the registration deadline.

"[T]he Comelec had given voters sufficient time to file their applications for registration (from May 6, 2014 to October 31, 2015) but these voters failed to do so for causes not attributable to the Comelec. 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 high court ruled.