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SC Extends Voters Registration until January 9, 2010
Decemberr 15, 2009
By Jay B. Rempillo
Voters for the May 10,
2010 elections can register until January 9, 2010.
Finding the petition
impressed with merit, the Supreme Court, by a unanimous vote, today granted the
petition to extend the voters registration and declared null and void the
Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Resolution No. 8585 insofar as it set the
deadline of voter registration for the 2010 polls on October 31, 2009.
In a nine-page decision penned by Justice Conchita Carpio Morales, the
Court also directed the COMELEC to proceed with dispatch in reopening the
registration of voters and holding the same until January 9, 2010. It said its
decision is immediately executory.
The Court said that it did not find
any ground to hold that the mandate of continuing voter registration cannot be
reasonably held within the period provided by RA 8189, The Voter’s Registration
Act of 1996. It stressed that RA 6646 (The Electoral Reforms Law of 1987) and RA
8436 (An Act Authorizing the COMELEC to Use an Automated Election System in the
May 11, 1998 National or Local Elections and in Subsequent National and Local
Electoral Exercises, Providing Funds Therefor and for Other Purposes) grant the
poll body the power to fix other periods and dates for pre-election activities
“only if the same cannot be reasonably held within the period provided by law.”
There is thus no occasion for the COMELEC to exercise its power to fix other
dates or deadlines therefor, it added.
Citing sec. 8 of RA 8189, the
Court held that Congress itself has determined that the period of 120 days
before a regular election and 90 days before a special election is enough time
for the COMELEC to make all the necessary preparations with respect to the
coming elections. The preparations include (1) completion of project precincts,
(2) constitution of the Board of Election Inspectors, (3) finalizing the
Computerized Voters List, (4) supervision of the campaign period, and (5)
preparation, bidding, printing, and distribution of Voter’s Information Sheet.
The Court said that such determination of Congress is well within the ambit of
its legislative power, which the High Court is bound to respect, and that the
COMELEC’s rule-making power should be exercised in accordance with the
“The clear text of the law thus decrees that voters be
allowed to register daily during regular offices hours, except during the period
starting 120 days before a regular election and 90 days before a special
election,” said the Court.
The petition before the High Court was filed
by Raymond V. Palatino, a youth sectoral representative under the Kabataan
Party-list, and other concerned citizens. (GR No. 189868, Palatino v. COMELEC,
December 15, 2009)