• Explain prisoners’ voting rights, Comelec told

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    The Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday ordered the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to explain its policy allowing inmates and detainees to vote in the 2016 elections.

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    In a resolution, the court en banc directed the commission to answer the petition filed last week by Victor Aguinaldo questioning the constitutionality of Comelec Resolution No. 9371 which provided for the registration and voting of people behind bars.

    The high court gave the Comelec 10 days to submit its comment. He said the order violates the constitutional provision that a voter should be a resident of the city or municipality where he or she will vote.

    Named respondents were the New Bilibid Prisons, Department of Justice, Comelec, and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.

    Aguinaldo said the resolution is not clear if prisoners can vote only in the national elections or in local elections despite the fact that they have not stayed in their place of residence for years.

    The resolution, he noted, “has imperfections, inadequacies and deficiencies in its applications, and thus, creating uncertainties, loopholes, gaps and ambiguities in its provisions, application and/or implementation.”

    The petitioner cited the case of former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo, who is detained at the Veterans Hospital in Quezon City and not in Pampanga where she intends to vote. Arroyo is seeking re-election.

    Aguinaldo said Comelec Resolution 9371 should be examined by the high tribunal and be amended before it is enforced.

    He claimed that the resolution “created partiality, inequality, prejudice, and injustice because detainees were given greater rights or privileges by allowing them to register and vote in the elections.”

    Also, he said the Implementing Rules and Regulations for the law have yet to come out to cover circumstances as to who, what, when, why, how these detainees should be allowed to vote.

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