Urgent Petition for Certiorari and Mandamus (With Application for Pleminary Mandatory Injunction)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Time of Filing: 11:44 a.m.

Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

KABATAAN PARTY-LIST
REPRESENTATIVE
RAYMOND V. PALATINO;
ALVIN A. PETERS,
PRESIDENT OF THE NATIONAL UNION
OF STUDENTS OF THE PHILIPPINES (NUSP);
MA. CRISTINA ANGELA GUEVARRA, CHAIRPERSON OF THE STUDENT
CHRISTIAN MOVEMENT
OF THE PHILIPPINES (SCMP);
VENCER MARI E. CRISOSTOMO, SECRETARY GENERAL
OF KABATAAN PARTY-LIST;
VIJAE O. ALQUISOLA,
PRESIDENT OF THE COLLEGE EDITORS
GUILD OF THE PHILIPPINES (CEGP);
DIANNE KRISTEL M. ASUELO,
SECRETARY GENERAL OF THE
KABATAANG ARTISTA PARA SA
TUNAY NA KALAYAAN (KARATULA);
KENNETH CARLISLE EARL EUGENIO;
ANA KATRINA V. TEJERO;
VICTOR LOUIS E. CRISOSTOMO;
JACQUELINE ALEXIS S. MERCED; and
JADE CHARMANE ROSE J. VALENZUELA.
Petitioners,

– versus –             G.R. No. 189868
Petition for Certiorari and Mandamus
with Application for Preliminary Mandatory Injunction

COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS,
Respondent.

x————————————————————x

URGENT PETITION
FOR CERTIORARI AND MANDAMUS
(WITH APPLICATION FOR
PRELIMINARY MANDATORY INJUNCTION)

PETITIONERS, through the undersigned counsel, unto the Honorable Supreme Court, most respectfully state that:
PREFATORY STATEMENT

“A cornerstone principle and bedrock of our 1987 Constitution is that the Philippines is a republican and democratic state. One of the hallmarks of democracy is the people’s right to vote.

xxx                          xxx                          xxx

It is not enough to have laws that assure honest voting and counting. They have to be enforced if we are to recognize the importance of the right to vote of our people; and if we are to accord sanctity, and not sanctimoniousness, to their sovereignty.

xxx                          xxx                          xxx

Let me conclude by stressing what Mencken calls the obvious of obviousities: the stakes in our upcoming elections are high. We have witnessed twice in our history how elections corrupted by the power of the few or corrupted by the power of ignorance of the many created tension that ended in eruptions on EDSA. We can no longer afford these social and political upheavals. We cannot look down at our elections as mere personal contests among candidates. In truth, it is not the unsuccessful candidate who loses the battle in a manipulated and fraudulent election, but we, the people who have enshrined the republican and democratic soul of our nation in our Constitution. We ought to heed Plato’s caution, lest our treasured democracy become simply a “tyranny of the powerful who manipulate the majority.” [Our Right to Vote: A Century After, A speech delivered by Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno on February 8, 2007, Manila Hotel, Constitution Day, PHILCONSA] (Emphasis supplied)

STATEMENT OF THE CASE

1.This Petition is about the exercise of a basic right upon which the fabric of any democracy is founded – the right of suffrage. Petitioners seek the nullification of respondent Commission on Elections Resolution No. 8585, dated 12 February 2009, fixing the deadline of application of registration of voters on 31 October 2009, more than two (2) months earlier than is prescribed by Republic Act No. 8189 or The Voters Registration Act of 1996.

2.The prayer for the declaration of respondent’s Resolution No. 8585 as null and void is anchored on two (2) crucial grounds, first, it is unconstitutional as it is a manifest usurpation of the legislative power of Congress, and second, it is an indubitable violation of the system of continuing registration of voters under The Voter’s Registration Act of 1996 stating in clear and categorical terms that the personal filing of application of registration of voters shall be conducted daily but prohibited only during one hundred twenty (120) days before a regular election and ninety (90) days before a special election, and the assailed Resolution causes the disenfranchisement of millions of first-time youth registrants and voters who cannot be accommodated by respondent as of the October 31, 2009 deadline for purposes of the May 10, 2010 elections.

3.The start of the 120-day prohibitive period before the May 10, 2010 elections is on January 10, 2010. Thus, the deadline of application of registration of voters should be on January 9, 2010, not on October 31, 2009 which is seventy (70) days earlier than is prescribed by the statute.

4.Respondent has committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction by the issuance and implementation of Resolution No. 8585, first, it has actually amended the provision on the system of continuing registration of voters under Section 8 of The Voter’s Registration Act of 1996, in violation of the 1987 Philippine Constitution as the issuance and implementation of the assailed Resolution constitute a manifest usurpation of the legislative power of Congress, and second, the assailed Resolution is a patent violation of the provision on the system of continuing registration of voters under Section 8 of The Voter’s Registration Act of 1996, thus:

“Section 8. System of Continuing Registration of Voters. – The personal filing of application of registration of voters shall be conducted daily in the office of the Election Officer during regular office hours. No registration shall, however, be conducted during the period starting one hundred twenty (120) days before a regular election and ninety (90) days before a special election. (Emphasis supplied)

5.This Petition is a special civil action for Certiorari and Mandamus brought under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court. Under the circumstances obtaining in this case, herein Petitioners have no plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law which will promptly and immediately relieve herein Petitioners from the injurious effects of the unconstitutional acts of the respondent in the issuance and implementation of the assailed Resolution.

6.Petitioners invoke this case as an exception to the rule on hierarchy of courts. In the case of La Bugal-B’laan Tribal Association, Inc., et al. v. Victor O. Ramos, et al. (G.R. No. 127882, January 27, 2004), the Supreme Court elucidated the following doctrine as regards the procedural question on the rule on hierarchy of courts, thus:

“This Court has consistently enjoined litigants to respect the hierarchy of courts. Although this Court has concurrent jurisdiction with the Regional Trial Courts and the Court of Appeals to issue writs of certiorari, prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto, habeas corpus and injunction, such concurrence does not give a party unrestrained freedom of choice of court forum. The resort to this Court’s primary jurisdiction to issue said writs shall be allowed only where the redress desired cannot be obtained in the appropriate courts or where exceptional and compelling circumstances justify such invocation. We held in People v. Cuaresma that:

A becoming regard for judicial hierarchy most certainly indicates that petitions for the issuance of extraordinary writs against first level (“inferior”) courts should be filed with the Regional Trial Court, and those against the latter, with the Court of Appeals. A direct invocation of the Supreme Court’s original jurisdiction to issue these writs should be allowed only where there are special and important reasons therefor, clearly and specifically set out in the petition. This is established policy. xxx.

The repercussion of the issues in this case on the Philippine mining industry, if not the national economy, as well as the novelty thereof, constitute exceptional and compelling circumstances to justify resort to this Court in the first instance.” (Emphasis supplied)

7.In the instant Petition, the serious and grave constitutional questions involved in this case and the repercussions of the unconstitutional acts of the respondent on the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches of government and on the statute which provides for a system of continuing registration of voters to prevent the disenfranchisement of millions of voters constitute exceptional and compelling circumstances to justify resort to this Honorable Court’s jurisdiction in the first instance.

Furthermore, at the core of the issues raised in the instant Petition is a precious and cherished right imbued with public interest – the right of suffrage.

8.Petitioner Kabataan Party-List Representative Raymond V. Palatino is suing in his capacity as a member of the House of Representatives and as a concerned citizen, thus:

(a)The issuance and implementation of Resolution No. 8585 are ultra vires acts on the part of respondent, who has actually amended Section 8 of The Voter’s Registration Act of 1996, in violation of the 1987 Philippine Constitution as such acts constitute a clear usurpation of the legislative power of Congress. Verily, the unconstitutional acts of the respondent infringe upon the prerogatives of herein Petitioner as a legislator.

Hence, Petitioner has locus standi as a legislator.

(b)The issues raised hereunder are of transcendental importance which must be settled early given the far-reaching implications of the unconstitutional acts of respondent on the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches of government and on the citizens’ fundamental right of suffrage.

Hence, Petitioner has locus standi as a concerned citizen.

9.Petitioner Alvin A. Peters, President of the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP), is suing in his capacity as a concerned citizen, thus:

(a)The issues raised hereunder are of transcendental importance which must be settled early given the far-reaching implications of the unconstitutional acts of respondent on the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches of government and on the citizens’ fundamental right of suffrage.

Hence, Petitioner has locus standi as a concerned citizen.

10.Petitioner Ma. Cristina Angela Guevarra, Chairperson of the Student Christian Movement of the Philippines (SCMP), is suing in her capacity as a concerned citizen, thus:

(a)The issues raised hereunder are of transcendental importance which must be settled early given the far-reaching implications of the unconstitutional acts of respondent on the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches of government and on the citizens’ fundamental right of suffrage.

Hence, Petitioner has locus standi as a concerned citizen.

11.Petitioner Vencer Mari E. Crisostomo, Secretary General of Kabataan Party-List, is suing in his capacity as a concerned citizen, thus:

(a)The issues raised hereunder are of transcendental importance which must be settled early given the far-reaching implications of the unconstitutional acts of respondent on the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches of government and on the citizens’ fundamental right of suffrage.

Hence, Petitioner has locus standi as a concerned citizen.

12.Petitioner Vijae O. Alquisola, President of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), is suing in his capacity as a concerned citizen, thus:

(a)The issues raised hereunder are of transcendental importance which must be settled early given the far-reaching implications of the unconstitutional acts of respondent on the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches of government and on the citizens’ fundamental right of suffrage.

Hence, Petitioner has locus standi as a concerned citizen.

13.Petitioner Dianne Kristel M. Asuelo, Secretary General of the Kabataang Artista para sa Tunay na Kalayaan (KARATULA), is suing in her capacity as a concerned citizen, thus:

(a)The issues raised hereunder are of transcendental importance which must be settled early given the far-reaching implications of the unconstitutional acts of respondent on the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches of government and on the citizens’ fundamental right of suffrage.

Hence, Petitioner has locus standi as a concerned citizen.

14.Petitioners Kenneth Carlisle Earl Eugenio, Ana Katrina V. Tejero, Victor Louis E. Crisostomo, Jacqueline Alexis S. Merced, and Jade Charmana Rose J. Valenzuela, all first-time registrants and voters in the May 10, 2010 elections, are suing in their capacity as concerned citizens, thus:

(a)The issues raised hereunder are of transcendental importance which must be settled early given the far-reaching implications of the unconstitutional acts of respondent on the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches of government and on the citizens’ fundamental right of suffrage.

Hence, Petitioners have locus standi as concerned citizens.

15.Petitioners attached hereto as Annex “A” the certified true copy of Resolution No. 8585 dated 12 February 2009.

16.Petitioners thus humbly pray that the Honorable Court issue a judgment:

a.Declaring the Resolution No. 8585 dated 12 February 2009 as unconstitutional and void; and

b.Commanding the respondent to extend the system of continuing registration of voters until January 9, 2010.

17.Petitioners are likewise praying for the issuance of a Preliminary Mandatory Injunction due to the seriousness and extreme urgency of the matters involved, as well as the grave and irreparable injuries that are sustained and will continue to be sustained by Petitioners due to the unconstitutionality of Resolution No. 8585, its patent violation of Section 8 of The Voter’s Registration Act of 1996, and the imminent lapse of the October 31, 2009 deadline in a few days, thus:

a.That Petitioners replead by reference the foregoing allegations as well as the allegations hereunder, as part of this application;

b.That grave and irreparable injury results to Petitioner Kabataan Party-List Representative Raymond V. Palatino as a legislator, who has sustained and will to continue to sustain direct injury by virtue of the usurpation of the legislative power of Congress by respondent in the issuance and implementation of the assailed Resolution;

c.That grave and irreparable injury results to Petitioners as concerned citizens, and to millions of first-time youth registrants and voters who cannot be accommodated by respondent as of October 31, 2009 for purposes of the May 10, 2010 elections thereby causing the disenfranchisement of millions of new registrants and voters;

d.That grave and irreparable injury results to Petitioners and millions of first-time youth registrants and voters who will sustain direct injury as they cannot be accommodated by respondent as of October 31, 2009 for purposes of the May 10, 2010 elections;

e.That Petitioners and millions of first-time youth registrants and voters are entitled to the relief demanded in the instant Petition, and part of such relief consists in requiring from respondent the extension of the deadline of application of registration of voters during the pendency of the present Petition, otherwise the instant Petition may be rendered ineffectual;

f.That the non-extension of deadline of application of registration of voters during the pendency of the present Petition would work injustice to Petitioners and millions of first-time youth registrants and voters who cannot be accommodated by respondent as of October 31, 2009 for purposes of the May 10, 2010 elections, as it would cause the disenfranchisement of millions of first-time registrants and voters;

g.That respondent is very adamant in its refusal to extend the filing of application of registration of voters beyond the October 31, 2009 deadline, in violation of the rights of Petitioners and of millions of first-time youth registrants and voters who cannot be accommodated by respondent as of October 31, 2009 for purposes of the May 10, 2010 elections. Thus, the necessity for a preliminary mandatory injunction in order not to render the judgment ineffectual; and

h.There is no other plain, speedy, and adequate remedy to address these pervasive injuries to the Petitioners and to the millions of first-time youth registrants and voters who cannot be accommodated by respondent as of October 31, 2009 for purposes of the May 10, 2010 elections, before this Petition could be heard by the Honorable Court.

Hence, based on the foregoing allegations, Petitioners are entitled to the issuance of a Preliminary Mandatory Injunction to require respondent to extend the system of continuing registration of voters until January 9, 2010.

THE PARTIES

THE PETITIONERS

18.Petitioner KABATAAN PARTY-LIST REPRESENTATIVE RAYMOND PALATINO, a representative of the youth sector in the House of Representatives, is of legal age and Filipino. He is suing in his capacity as a member of the House of Representatives and as a concerned citizen. His office address is at MB-3, House of Representatives, Batasan Hills, Quezon City where he may be served notices, orders, resolutions, judgment and other court processes.

19.Petitioner ALVIN A. PETERS, PRESIDENT OF THE NATIONAL UNION OF STUDENTS OF THE PHILIPPINES (NUSP), an alliance organization of tertiary student councils in the Philippines, is of legal age and Filipino. He is suing in his capacity as a concerned citizen. His residential address is at C-103 Hardin ng Bougainvillea, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City where he may be served notices, orders, resolutions, judgment and other court processes.

20.Petitioner MA. CRISTINA ANGELA GUEVARRA, CHAIRPERSON OF THE STUDENT CHRISTIAN MOVEMENT OF THE PHILIPPINES (SCMP), an alliance organization of Christian organizations in the Philippines, is of legal age and Filipino. She is suing in her capacity as a concerned citizen. Her residential address is at 118-B Scout Rallos Extension, Brgy. Sacred Heart, Quezon City where she may be served notices, orders, resolutions, judgment and other court processes.

21.Petitioner VENCER MARI E. CRISOSTOMO, SECRETARY GENERAL OF KABATAAN PARTY-LIST, the only party-list for the youth sector in the House of Representatives, is of legal age and Filipino. He is suing in his capacity as a concerned citizen. His residential address is at 56 Caimito, Mapayapa Village 1, Quezon City where he may be served notices, orders, resolutions, judgment and other court processes.

22.Petitioner VIJAE O. ALQUISOLA, PRESIDENT OF THE COLLEGE EDITORS GUILD OF THE PHILIPPINES PHILIPPINES (CEGP), an alliance organization of tertiary student publications in the Philippines, is of legal age and Filipino. He is suing in his capacity as a concerned citizen. His residential address is at 522 G-10 Makisig St., Bacood, Sta. Mesa, Manila where he may be served notices, orders, resolutions, judgment and other court processes.

23.Petitioner DIANNE KRISTEL M. ASUELO, SECRETARY GENERAL OF THE KABATAANG ARTISTA PARA SA TUNAY NA KALAYAAN (KARATULA), a mass organization of young artists and writers in the Philippines, is of legal age and Filipino. She is suing in her capacity as a concerned citizen. Her residential address is at 5 Araceli St., Novaliches, Quezon City where she may be served notices, orders, resolutions, judgment and other court processes.

24.Petitioner KENNETH CARLISLE EARL EUGENIO, a student of the Claro M. Recto High School, is of legal age and Filipino. He is suing in his capacity as a concerned citizen. His residential address is at 1512 J. Fajardo St., Sampaloc, Manila where he may be served notices, orders, resolutions, judgment and other court processes.

25.Petitioner ANA KATRINA V. TEJERO, a student of the University of the Philippines, Diliman, is of legal age and Filipino. She is suing in her capacity as a concerned citizen. Her residential address is at 18 Eagle St., Phase 4 Vista Verde, Country Homes, Cainta, Rizal where she may be served notices, orders, resolutions, judgment and other court processes.

26.Petitioner VICTOR LOUIS E. CRISOSTOMO, a student of the University of the Philippines, Diliman, is of legal age and Filipino. He is suing in his capacity as a concerned citizen. His residential address is at 327 Pagsibigan St., Mabolo, Malolos City, Bulacan where he may be served notices, orders, resolutions, judgment and other court processes.

27.Petitioner JACQUELINE ALEXIS S. MERCED, a student of the University of the Philippines, Diliman, is of legal age and Filipino. She is suing in her capacity as a concerned citizen. Her residential address is at B2 L9, Lake Lanao St., Springville Heights, Cavite where she may be served notices, orders, resolutions, judgment and other court processes.

28.Petitioner JADE CHARMANE ROSE J. VALENZUELA, a student of the University of the Philippines, Diliman, is of legal age and Filipino. She is suing in her capacity as a concerned citizen. Her residential address is at 15 Tulip St., Cainta Greenpark Village, Brgy. San Isidro, Cainta where he may be served notices, orders, resolutions, judgment and other court processes.

THE RESPONDENT

29.Respondent COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS is the administrative body which has issued and implemented Resolution No. 8585. Respondent’s office address is Palacio Del Gobernador Building, Intramuros, Manila where it may be served notices, orders, resolutions, judgment and other court processes.

STATEMENT OF FACTS

30.On November 12, 2008, respondent Commission on Elections (hereinafter referred to as “Respondent”) promulgated Resolution No. 8514 entitled “Rules and Regulations on the Resumption of the System of Continuing Registration of Voters in the Non-ARMM Areas”, which set the deadline of the filing of application of registration of voters on December 15, 2009.

31.On February 12 2009, respondent promulgated Resolution No. 8585 entitled “Amendments to Resolution No. 8514 promulgated on November 12, 2008”, which moved the deadline of the filing of application of registration of voters from December 15, 2009 to an earlier date, October 31, 2009.

32.The regular election in 2010 shall be conducted on May 10, 2010.

33.In 1996, the Philippine Congress enacted Republic Act No. 8189 or The Voter’s Registration Act of 1996 which provided for a system of continuing registration of voters that shall be conducted daily but no registration shall be conducted during the period starting one hundred twenty (120) days before a regular election.

34.The start of the 120-day prohibitive period is on January 10, 2010 and until May 9, 2010. Thus, the deadline for the filing of application of registration of voters should be on January 9, 2010, not October 31, 2009.

35.For purposes of the May 10, 2010 elections, the projected voting population for the age group 18-19, those who are 18-19 years of age on May 10, 2010, is 3,758,964 and for the age group 20-24, those who are 20-24 years of age on May 10, 2010, is 8,756,981, or a total of 12,515,945, according to National Statistics Office (NSO) data on the 2000 Census of Population.

36.Those who are 18 or 19 years of age at the time of the May 10, 2010 elections are necessarily first time registrants and voters in the May 10, 2010 elections.

37.Those who are only 17 years of age in 2007, and thereby ineligible to register and vote for the May 2007 elections, shall turn 20 years of age in 2010 and are therefore first-time registrants and voters in the May 10, 2010 elections. Those who are only 17 years of age at the time of the May 2007 elections, and thereby ineligible to register and vote for the May 2007 elections, but shall turn 18 in 2007 but after the May 2007 elections shall turn 21 years of age in 2010, and are therefore first-time registrants and voters in the May 10, 2010 elections.

38.For purposes of the May 10, 2010 elections, the estimated registered voters out of the foregoing projected voting population for the age group 18-19 are 3,392,836 and for the age group 20-24 are 7,904,039, or a total of 11,296,875, according to the same NSO data.

39.However, respondent has made an estimate of only four (4) million first-time registrants for purposes of the May 10, 2010 election.

40.As of the end of August 2009, two (2) months before the October 31, 2009 deadline, respondent was able to process only 2,653,594 first-time registrants and voters for purposes of the May 10, 2010 elections, according to the data released by respondent and published by the media.

41.According to media releases issued by respondent, the number of processed first-time registrants and voters for purposes of the May 10, 2010 elections may reach around 3 million or 3.1 million at the end of the October 31, 2009 deadline set by respondent.

42.The said figure – 3 million or 3.1 million – is almost one (1) million short of respondent’s own estimate of four (4) million first-time registrants and voters, and several millions short of the NSO’s foregoing projected voting population and estimated registered voters for purposes of the May 10, 2010 elections.

43.Thus, several millions of first-time registrants and voters for the May 10, 2010 elections, which is highly anticipated in recent history and where the stakes are very high, are denied of sufficient opportunity provided for by the The Voter’s Registration Act of 1996 to register and vote in the May 10, 2010 elections.

44.Respondent has admitted in media releases that several problems have been encountered during the period of registration of voters, namely, long queues and waiting; insufficient registration documents; malfunctioning or insufficient number of data capturing machines (DCM); and that DCM, which records the voters’ fingerprints, photographs and pertinent information, can only process around 200 – 250 applications a day.

45.With the very high volume of first-time registrants and voters in the May 10, 2010 elections, the October 31, 2009 deadline set by respondent for the filing of application of registration of voters provides is utterly insufficient to accommodate first-time youth registrants and voters highly eager to participate in the May 10, 2010 elections.

46.In many instances reported in the media, respondent has been very adamant in not extending the October 31, 2009 deadline for the filing of application of registration of voters.

47.Resolution No. 8585 has provided a deadline of the filing of application of registration of voters way earlier and different than is prescribed under The Voter’s Registration Act of 1996, thereby actually amending the statute’s provision on the system of continuing registration of voters. Thus, respondent has usurped the legislative power of Congress by amending The Voter’s Registration Act of 1996.

48.Thus, Resolution No. 8585 has effectively deprived millions of the voting population seventy (70) days of opportunity to register provided to them by The Voter’s Registration Act of 1996, thereby causing their disenfranchisement come May 10, 2010 elections.

Hence, this Petition.

GROUNDS

I.

THE RESOLUTION NO. 8585 DATED FEBRUARY 12, 2009 IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL AS THE SAME AMENDED SECTION 8 OF THE VOTER’S REGISTRATION ACT OF 1996 ON THE SYSTEM OF CONTINUING REGISTRATION OF VOTERS IN USURPATION OF THE LEGISLATIVE POWER OF CONGRESS.

II.

THE RESOLUTION NO. 8585 DATED FEBRUARY 12, 2009 FIXING THE DEADLINE FOR THE FILING OF APPLICATION OF REGISTRATION OF VOTERS ON OCTOBER 31, 2009 VIOLATED SECTION 8 OF THE VOTER’S REGISTRATION ACT OF 1996 PRESCRIBING THAT THE FILING OF APPLICATION OF REGISTRATION OF VOTERS SHALL BE CONDUCTED DAILY BUT PROHIBITED DURING ONE HUNDRED TWENTY (120) DAYS BEFORE A REGULAR ELECTION, AS OCTOBER 31, 2009 IS SEVENTY (70) DAYS SHORT OF THAT PRESCRIBED BY SAID STATUTE, THEREBY CAUSING THE DISENFRANCHISEMENT OF MILLIONS OF FIRST-TIME REGISTRANTS AND VOTERS THAT CANNOT BE ACCOMMODATED BY RESPONDENT COMELEC AS OF OCTOBER 31, 2009 FOR PURPOSES OF THE MAY 10, 2010 ELECTIONS.

DISCUSSION

I.

THE RESOLUTION NO. 8585 DATED FEBRUARY 12, 2009 IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL AS THE SAME AMENDED SECTION 8 OF THE VOTER’S REGISTRATION ACT OF 1996 ON THE SYSTEM OF CONTINUING REGISTRATION IN USURPATION OF THE LEGISLATIVE POWER OF CONGRESS.

The Resolution No. 8585 dated February 12, 2009 is unconstitutional as the same amended Section 8 of The Voter’s Registration Act of 1996 on the system of continuing registration of voters in usurpation of the legislative power of Congress.

49.Section 8 of The Voter’s Registration Act of 1996 is clear and categorical about the system of continuing registration of voters, thus:

“Section 8. System of Continuing Registration of Voters. – The personal filing of application of registration of voters shall be conducted daily in the office of the Election Officer during regular office hours. No registration shall, however, be conducted during the period starting one hundred twenty (120) days before a regular election and ninety (90) days before a special election. (Emphasis supplied)

50.The foregoing provision is unequivocal and definite that “the filing of application of registration of voters shall be conducted daily but no registration shall be conducted during the period starting one hundred twenty (120) days before a regular election and ninety (90) days before a special election.”

51.The start of the 120-day prohibitive period is on January 10, 2010 and until May 9, 2010. Thus, the last day for the filing of application of registration should have been January 9, 2010 instead of October 31, 2009 laid down in Resolution No. 8585, which is seventy (70) days less than that prescribed by the statute.

52.Respondent Comelec has issued the assailed Resolution based on its power to issue rules and regulations in the implementation of election laws. Petitioners do not deny that respondent Comelec has the power to issue rules and regulations for the filing of the application of registration of voters.

53.However, it is noteworthy to emphasize at this moment the well-settled doctrines as regards the power to promulgate implementing rules and regulations and the nature and character of such implementing rules and regulations, thus:

“It must be stressed that the power of administrative officials to promulgate rules in the implementation of a statute is necessarily limited to what is provided for in the legislative enactment. The implementing rules and regulations of a law cannot extend the law or expand its coverage, as the power to amend or repeal a statute is vested in the legislature. xxx. All that is required is that xxx the regulation does not contradict but conforms with the standards prescribed by law.” [The Public Schools District Supervisors Association v. Hon. Edilberto C. De Jesus, G.R. No. 157286, June 16, 2006] (Emphasis supplied)

“The implementing rules cannot add to or detract from the provisions of the law it is designed to implement.” [The Honorable Secretary of Finance v. The Honorable Ricardo M. Ilarde, G.R. No. 121782, May 9, 2005] (Emphasis supplied)

54.Thus, it cannot be gainsaid that by providing a period different than that prescribed under Section 8 of The Voter’s Registration Act of 1996, respondent Comelec has actually amended the said statute. The assailed Resolution has detracted from said Section 8 and has amended The Voter’s Registration Act of 1996. And this is manifestly an unconstitutional exercise of legislative power; it is beyond the province of administrative agencies, thus a serious and grave violation of the 1987 Philippine Constitution.

“The line that delineates Legislative and Executive power is not indistinct. Legislative power is “the authority, under the Constitution, to make laws, and to alter and repeal them.” The Constitution, as the will of the people in their original, sovereign and unlimited capacity, has vested this power in the Congress of the Philippines. The grant of legislative power to Congress is broad, general and comprehensive. The legislative body possesses plenary power for all purposes of civil government. Any power, deemed to be legislative by usage and tradition, is necessarily possessed by Congress, unless the Constitution has lodged it elsewhere. In fine, except as limited by the Constitution, either expressly or impliedly, legislative power embraces all subjects and extends to matters of general concern or common interest.” [Ople v. Torres, G.R. No. 127685, July 23, 1998] (Emphasis supplied)

55.Thus, the said unconstitutional acts of respondent Comelec in issuing and implementing the assailed Resolution smack of outright arbitrariness on the part of said respondents.

56.Again, as already elucidated in the foregoing allegations, by only limiting the deadline for the filing of the application of registration of voters on October 31, 2009 instead of conducting the same daily, or until January 9, 2010, but not during the prohibitive period starting one hundred twenty (120) days before the May 10, 2010 elections, the issuance and implementation of the assailed Resolution are ultra vires and beyond the authority vested by The Voter’s Registration Act of 1996 to respondent Comelec.

57.Indeed, if respondent Comelec were to be allowed to simply invoke their “rule-making power” governing the filing of application of registration of voters in the issuance and implementation of the assailed Resolution, the fate of several millions of first-time youth registrants and voters in the May 10, 2010 elections who shall be disenfranchised of their basic right of suffrage shall be at the mercy of respondent Comelec. The doctrine stated hereunder is very instructive, thus:

“Many regulations, however, bear directly on the public. It is here that administrative legislation must be restricted in its scope and application. Regulations are not supposed to be a substitute for the general policy-making that Congress enacts in the form of a public law. Although administrative regulations are entitled to respect, the authority to prescribe rules and regulations is not an independent source of power to make laws.” [Ople v. Torres, supra, citing Fisher, Constitutional  Conflicts Between Congress and the President)” (Emphasis supplied)

58.Thus, in view of the foregoing premises, it is clear that the assailed Resolution is unconstitutional as the same has amended Section 8 of The Voter’s Registration Act of 1996 on the system of continuing registration of voters in usurpation of the legislative power of Congress.

II

THE RESOLUTION NO. 8585 DATED FEBRUARY 12, 2009 FIXING THE DEADLINE FOR THE FILING OF APPLICATION OF REGISTRATION OF VOTERS ON OCTOBER 31, 2009 VIOLATED SECTION 8 OF THE VOTER’S REGISTRATION ACT OF 1996 PRESCRIBING THAT THE FILING OF APPLICATION OF REGISTRATION OF VOTERS SHALL BE CONDUCTED DAILY BUT PROHIBITED DURING ONE HUNDRED TWENTY (120) DAYS BEFORE A REGULAR ELECTION, AS OCTOBER 31, 2009 IS SEVENTY (70) DAYS SHORT OF THAT PRESCRIBED BY SAID STATUTE, THEREBY CAUSING THE DISENFRANCHISEMENT OF MILLIONS OF FIRST-TIME REGISTRANTS AND VOTERS THAT CANNOT BE ACCOMMODATED BY RESPONDENT COMELEC AS OF OCTOBER 31, 2009 FOR PURPOSES OF THE MAY 10, 2010 ELECTIONS.

The Resolution No. 8585 dated February 12, 2009 fixing the deadline for the filing of application of registration of voters on October 31, 2009 violated Section 8 of The Voter’s Registration Act of 1996 prescribing that the filing of application of registration of voters shall be conducted daily but prohibited during one hundred twenty (120) days before a regular election, as October 31, 2009 is seventy (70) days short of that prescribed by said statute, thereby causing the disenfranchisement of millions of first-time registrants and voters that cannot be accommodated by respondent Comelec as of October 31, 2009 for purposes of the May 10, 2010 elections.

59.The foregoing Section 8 of The Voter’s Registration Act of 1996 is positive about its phraseology that the filing of application of registration of voters shall be conducted daily only that it is prohibited to do so within one hundred twenty (120) days before a regular election.

60.And it has already been established that the period of one hundred twenty (120) days starts from January 10, 2010 and ends on May 9, 2010, as the regular election is on May 10, 2010. Therefore, the deadline for the filing of the application of registration should have been January 9, 2010, not the October 31, 2009 fixed in the assailed Resolution.

61.Likewise, it has already been shown that the difference in number of days between October 31, 2009 and January 9, 2010 is seventy (70) days – seventy (70) precious days taken away by respondent Comelec from several millions of first-time youth registrants and voters that cannot be accommodated by respondent Comelec as of October 31, 2009 for purposes of the May 10, 2010 elections.

62.There is no doubt that, indeed, the assailed Resolution violates the foregoing Section 8 of The Voter’s Registration Act of 1996. The assailed Resolution indubitably does not provide for the proper and correct implementation of the system of continuing registration of voters, as it prescribes a period different and way earlier than is commanded under the statute.

63.Verily, Resolution No. 8585 has effectively deprived millions of the voting population seventy (70) days of opportunity to register provided to them by The Voter’s Registration Act of 1996, thereby causing their disenfranchisement come May 10, 2010 elections.

64.Thus, in view of the foregoing premises, the assailed Resolution violates the statute’s provision on the system of continuing registration of voters, as it does not conform to Section 8 of The Voter’s Registration Act of 1996, and in fact defeats the purpose and spirit of the same.

PRAYER

WHEREFORE, premises considered, Petitioners most respectfully pray of the Honorable Court the following:

1.That this Petition be given due course;

2.That a Preliminary Mandatory Injunction be issued to require the respondent Commission on Elections to extend the system of continuing registration of voters until January 9, 2010;

3.That after notice and hearing, a final order is issued:

(a)Declaring the respondent Commission on Elections Resolution No. 8585 dated 12 February 2009 as unconstitutional and void; and

(b)Commanding the respondent Commission on Elections to extend the system of continuing registration of voters until January 9, 2010.

Petitioners likewise pray for such other reliefs as are just and equitable under the circumstances.

RESPECTFULLY  SUBMITTED. Quezon City for Manila, 29 October 2009.

JULIUS GARCIA MATIBAG
Counsel for Petitioners
Roll of Attorneys No. 55254
IBP 773865, 03-30-09, Oriental Mindoro
PTR 2598006, 01-13-09, Oriental Mindoro
Admitted to Bar, 2008
MCLE not yet required

Third Floor, Erythrina Building,
No. 1 Matatag cor. Maaralin Sts.,
Central District, Quezon City
(02) 920.6660, (02) 927.2812

Copy furnished: Through Registered Mail

COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS
Palacio Del Gobernador Building
Intramuros, Manila

SOLICITOR GENERAL
OFFICE OF THE SOLICITOR GENERAL
OSG Bldg., 134 Amorsolo St.,
Legaspi Village, Makati City

EXPLANATION FOR SERVICE OF PETITION
THROUGH REGISTERED MAIL

The service of copies of the instant Petition is done through registered mail. Pursuant to Rule 13, Section 11 of the Rules of Court, the service of copies of the instant Petition cannot be done personally due to distance and lack of available personnel.

JULIUS GARCIA MATIBAG