MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) - The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday extended registration of voters for the May 10, 2010 elections until January 9, 2010.
In a nine-page unanimous decision penned by Associate Justice Conchita Carpio Morales, the Court en banc granted the petition filed by Kabataan party-list led by Raymond Palatino seeking to declare null and void Commission on Elections (Comelec) Resolution No. 8585, which shortened the deadline of voters registration to October 31, 2009, instead of December 15, 2009, as previously fixed by Comelec Resolution No. 8514.
The Court said the decision is immediately executory.
The Comelec earlier set the deadline for voters' registration to October 31 due to the demands of poll automation.
In its decision, the Supreme Court said the people’s right to suffrage “is at the heart of our constitutional democracy." It said the Comelec has no valid ground to justify its non-compliance to the system of continuing voter registration mandated under Section 8 of Republic Act 8189 or the Voter’s Registration Act of 1996.
Under the said provision, the registration of voters shall be conducted daily in the office of the election officer during regular office hours, except during the period starting 120 days before a regular election and 90 days before a special election.
“In the present case, the Court finds no ground to hold that the mandate of continuing voter registration cannot be reasonably held within the period provided by R.A. 8189, Section 8 – daily during officer hours, except during the period starting 120 days before the May 10, 2010 regular elections. There is thus no occasion for the Comelec to exercise its power to fix other dates or deadlines therefor,” the Court said.
Only 3 million first-time voters
Kabataan party-list Rep. Raymond Palatino asked the Supreme Court last October 30 to move the deadline for voters' registration to January 9 as provided by law.
"We are questioning the legality of shortened voters' registration. According to Section 8 of the Voter Registration Act of 1996, registration should be daily and 120 days before election," Palatino had said. (Access petition here:kabataanpartylist.com/b...)
"The deadline should be January 9. Congress, not Comelec, has the power to amend a law," he said.
According to Palatino, National Statistics Office data shows there should be 11 million first-time voters, but only 3 million had registered.
Other petitioners were Jade Charmane Rose Valenzuela, Jacqueline Alexis Merced, Ana Katrina Tejero, Kenneth Carlisle Earl Eugenio, and Victor Louis Crisostomo, all first-time voters who tried but failed to register due various reasons.
They were joined by Alvin Peters, president of the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP); Vijae Alquisola, president of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP); Ken Leonard Ramos, chairperson of Anakbayan; and, Ma. Cristina Angela Guevarra, chairperson of the Student Christian Movement of the Philippines (SCMP).
At the House of Representatives, Palatino had filed three resolutions--House Resolutions 1162, 1443, and 1336--seeking the extension of voters’ registration. -- with a report from Carmela Fonbuena, abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak