Court eyes lifting TRO on ‘No Bio, No Boto’

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The Supreme Court (SC) is eyeing to lift a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) it earlier issued against the “No Bio, No Boto” policy of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) that disallows voters without biometrics to cast their ballot.

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According to a court insider, the tribunal will hold a special session on Wednesday to deliberate a plea of the Comelec to lift the TRO to smoothen the poll body’s preparations for the May 2016 elections.

Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe is the ponente of the case.

The SC source said the justices are poised to declare the TRO dissolved since voters were given sufficient time—two years—to register and have their biometrics taken.

The TRO was issued by the High Court on the basis of a petition for certiorari and prohibition filed by Kabataan party-list group assailing the “No Bio, No Boto” policy.

The petitioner said the policy deprives more than three million registered voters without biometrics of their right to participate in next year’s national and local elections.

Biometrics registration is called for by Republic Act (RA) 10367 or “An Act Providing for Mandatory Biometrics Voter Registration.”

The party-list group also asked for the voidance of Comelec Resolution 9721, dated June 26, 2013, Resolution 9863, dated April 1, 2014, and Resolution 10013, all related to deactivation of voter registration records in the May 9, 2016 national and local elections, as directed by the assailed RA 10367.

The petition argued that RA 10367 and its implementing regulations must be ruled as unconstitutional since they impose an additional substantive requirement on the exercise of suffrage, thus violating Section 1, Article V of the 1987 Constitution.

Official data from the poll body showed that only 3,599,906 registered voters have undergone the mandatory biometrics validation procedure as of September 30, 2015.

The Comelec has admitted that a total of 3,059,601 registered voters remain without biometrics data also as of September 30, 2015.

This is equivalent to 5.86 percent of the 52,239,488 registered voters for the 2016 national and local elections.

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