Supreme Court asked
not to lift TRO on "no bio, no boto" policy
By Perfecto T.
MANILA, Dec. 11 (PNA) -- The petitioners against the "No Bio, No Boto"
policy of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Friday filed a
manifestation before the Supreme Court (SC) seeking to counter the Comelec's
allegations with regard to the ramifications of the SC's temporary
restraining order (TRO) against the assailed policy.
In their eight-page supplemental manifestation, the petitioners, led by
Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon, cited Comelec Chair Andres Bautista's
recent statement wherein he warned that the TRO "materially impacts" the
election preparations, and that the Comelec may even have to postpone the
May 9, 2016 elections if it fails to meet its preparation targets.
"COMELEC's technical predicament stems from the fact that the poll body
excluded the estimated 2.5 million active voters without biometrics in the
forward planning for the upcoming elections, despite the fact that these
voters have already participated in past elections and are well in their
right to participate in the next polls, if not for the assailed 'No Bio, No
Boto' policy," the petitioners argued.
"It implies that the respondent has in fact systematically planned to
disenfranchise the said number of registered voters, even from the beginning
of the election preparations,” they added.
The manifestation also took a swipe against Comelec's argument that the "No
Bio, No Boto" policy aims at cleaning the voters list and weed out flying
"By consistently raising alarm over 'flying voters,' is the COMELEC
insinuating that there as much as 2.5 million illegal 'flying voters' in the
country? Without actual data stratifying the identities and number of
registered voters without biometric information, neither party can assert
the exact reason why 2.5 million have failed to submit themselves to COMELEC
again between May 2014 and October 2015," the petitioners argued.
"Whether they are actually 'flying voters,' and whether the lapse has been
on the part of COMELEC or of the voter, the certain fact is this: 2.5
million registered voters cannot vote at the next elections," they added.
"More importantly, what COMELEC fails to explain in detail is that the whole
point of biometric registration and validation will prove to be moot, as the
backend technology that will enable the poll body to digitally verify and
validate voters' identities come Election Day will not be used," the
They noted that instead of providing an electronic Voter Verification System
(VVS), Comelec Chair Bautista announced to the public in November that a
hard copy of the voters' list will still be used in the upcoming elections
to verify the identities of voters.
Bautista has earlier said that the VVS, which will supposedly check a
voter's biometrics such as fingerprints electronically on Election Day, is
seen by Comelec as "a want rather than a need."
"Without the VVS, there will be no means for teachers and poll employees
manning the precincts on Election Day to actually use the biometrics
information gathered by COMELEC... Given these circumstances, there is in
fact no compelling need for COMELEC to continue insisting on implementing
the 'No Bio, No Boto' policy," the petitioners argued.
In their manifestation, they also said that the right of over 2.5 million
voters set to be disenfranchised by the "No Bio, No Boto" policy trumps any
argument on logistical concerns.
They cited the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to
which the Philippines is a signatory, which requires the country to respect
the people's right of suffrage without unreasonable restrictions.
"This Honorable Court is now entrusted with the power to provide the people
relief from unreasonable burdens and the freedom to exercise their rights.
Petitioners ask that this Court maintain and continue the temporary
restraining order against the deactivation of voters without biometric
information, for equal dignity and respect," the petitioners added.
The SC is expected to hold a special en banc session on Dec. 16, 2015 to
render a ruling on the "No Bio, No Boto" case. (PNA)