Kabataan Partylist today filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition before the Supreme Court to assail the constitutionality of the “No Bio, No Boto” policy of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), which is set to deprive more than three million registered voters without biometrics of their right to participate in the upcoming 2016 national and local elections. (Click this link to see full text of petition)
In a 32-page petition, Kabataan Partylist sought for the exercise of judicial review to assail the constitutionality of the deactivation of registration of voters without biometrics and enjoin the implementation of provisions of the Republic Act No. 10367 or “An Act Providing for Mandatory Biometrics Voter Registration.”
Kabataan Partylist also sought for the nullification of COMELEC Resolution No. 9721, dated June 26, 2013, Resolution No. 9863, dated April 1, 2014, and Resolution No. 10013, all related to deactivation of voter registration records in the May 9, 2016 National and Local Elections, as directed by the assailed Republic Act No. 10367.
Assisted by legal counsel Atty. Krissy Conti, petitioners include Cong. Terry Ridon and Kabataan Partylist President Marjohara Tucay, who are suing for and in behalf of the youth party, along with Sarah Elago, president of the National Union of Students of the Philippines; Vencer Crisostomo, chairperson of Anakbayan; Marc Lino Abila, national president of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines; Einstein Recedes, deputy secretary-general of Anakbayan; Charisse Bañez, chairperson of the League of Filipino Students; and aggrieved parties Arlene Clarisse Julve and Sining Marfori, both of whom stand to lose their right to vote due to the assailed law and implementing regulations.
Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon (center), flanked by Kabataan National President Marjohara Tucay (left) and counsel Atty. Krissy Conti
“Republic Act No. 10367 and its implementing regulations are unconstitutional as these impose an unconstitutional, additional substantive requirement imposed on the exercise of suffrage, thus violating Section 1, Article V of the 1987 Constitution,” the petitioners said, noting that the 1987 Constitution explicitly states that “[n]o literacy, property, or other substantive requirement shall be imposed on the exercise of suffrage,” the petitioners explained.
“In contravention of the above-stated constitutional provision, Republic Act No. 10367 and its implementing regulations imposed an additional substantive requirement for all voters, both old and new registrants, to submit for mandatory biometrics validation or risk being deactivated or removed precinct book of voters, thus effectively barring them from the exercise of their right to vote,” they added.
“Further egregious is the fact that voters with active records according to Republic Act No. 8189, the antecedent Voters Registration Law of 1996, comprise bulk of those who will be deactivated. The deactivation of registered voters qualified under Republic Act No. 8189 is incompatible with the tenet that laws with penal sanctions should apply prospectively and not retrospectively.
“Secondly, the biometrics validation gravely violates due process as it an unreasonable deprivation of the constitutional right to vote for millions of Filipinos who have failed to register their biometric information despite existing and active registration – in effect a voter’s re-registration – for various reasons whether personal or institutional,” they added.
Petitioners noted that despite COMELEC’s “No Bio, No Boto” campaign, official data from the poll body showed that only three million five hundred ninety-nine thousand nine hundred six (3,599,906) registered voters have undergone the mandatory biometrics validation procedure, as of September 30, 2015.
COMELEC also revealed that a total of three million fifty-nine thousand six hundred one (3,059,601) registered voters remain without biometrics data as of September 30, 2015. According to COMELEC, this figure is equivalent to 5.86 percent of the total fifty-two million two hundred thirty-nine thousand four hundred eighty-eight (52,239,488) registered voters for the 2016 national and local elections.
“It is thus apparent that over three million registered voters stand to illegally lose their right of suffrage in the May 9, 2016 national and local elections without the benefit of due process due to the implementation of an additional requirement that is patently unconstitutional,” the petitioners argued.
Just last month, Kabataan Partylist and several youth groups also filed a petition before the SC to question the October 31 deadline for voters’ registration set by COMELEC.
The SC has already ordered COMELEC to comment on the said petition.