The Philippines’ highest tribunal has granted a petition to extend the registration period for new voters who wish to take part in the 2010 elections
A report by media network ABS-CBN broke the news.
“This is very good news and we welcome it. We expect the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to immediately comply and let prospective new and returning voters get listed in a quick, lawful and orderly fashion nationwide,” said Kabataan Partylist Congressman Raymond Palatino, the country’s first elected youth representative in the House of Representatives.
The Supreme Court made a formal announcement of the tribunal’s decision in a press conference today at 3:00 pm. While the ruling was immediately executory, Comelec chair Jose Melo was quoted as saying that the poll body has yet to receive a copy of the tribunal’s ruling.
Palatino led the filing of the case before the Supreme Court only days before the Comelec ended the voter registration last October 31, 2009.
Palatino and his co-petitioners argued that under the Voter Registration Law, the deadline for voter registration should be January 9, 2010 or 120 days before the May 10, 2010 elections.
The petitioners said that the Comelec practically amended the law when it ordered the deadline of the voter registration 70 days earlier than what the Voter Registration Law provides.
Docketed as G.R. No. 189868, the Kabataan Partylist case said that in illegally reducing the number of days for voter registration, the Comelec denied potentially millions of voters their constitutional right to vote.
It “effectively deprived millions of the voting population 70 days of opportunity to register provided to them by The Voter’s Registration Act of 1996, thereby causing their disenfranchisement”.
Joining Palatino as co-petitioners before the Supreme Court were National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) president Alvin Peters, College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) president Vijae Alquisola, Anakbayan chairperson Ken Leonard Ramos, Student Christian Movement of the Philippines (SCMP) chairperson Ma. Cristina Angela Guevarra, Kabataang Artista para sa Tunay na Kalayaan (KARATULA) secretary-general Dianne Kristel M. Asuelo, and several prospective first-time voters Kenneth Carlisle Earl Eugenio, Ana Katrina V. Tejero, Victor Louis E. Crisostomo, Jacqueline Alexis S. Merced, and Jade Charmana Rose J. Valenzuela.
New and returning voters have assailed the Comelec for its disorderly voter registration centers and the lack of adequate opportunity for students and young professionals to leave work in order to get listed as voters.