Philippines’ Comelec ordered to not drop 2.5M voters who failed to submit biometrics

December 1, 2015 - 

The Philippines’ Supreme Court (SC) temporarily ordered the Commission on Elections (Comelec) not to disable the registration of 2.5 million voters who did not enroll their biometrics by the October 31st deadline for the 2016 elections, according to a report by Rappler.com.

The move comes a month after the Comelec denied requests for postponing the deadline for voter registration, thus ending the 17-month registration period on October 31 for the May 2016 general elections.

The Supreme Court’s temporary restraining order (TRO) includes the Comelec’s “No Bio, No Boto” (No Biometrics, No Vote) policy, said SC spokesman Theodore Te, who added that the TRO is “effective immediately and until further orders.”

Comelec Spokesman James Jimenez said that approximately 2.5 million voters did not submit their biometrics.

The TRO comes after militant group leaders, on November 25, requested the SC to junk the “No Bio, No Boto” policy as unconstitutional.

“The biometrics validation gravely violates due process as it is an unreasonable deprivation of the constitutional right to vote for millions of Filipinos who have failed to register their biometric information despite existing and active registration – in effect a voter’s re-registration – for various reasons, whether personal or institutional,” the petitioners, including Kabataan Party-list representative Terry Ridon, told the Supreme Court.

The “No Bio, No Boto” policy is based on Republic Act 10367, which President Benigno Aquino III signed in February 2013.

The Comelec said in a resolution on November 3 that any voters with incomplete or corrupted biometrics data can still vote, meaning that only voters completely without biometrics data will be unable to vote.

“Requiring validation via biometrics is a modern way to enhance cleanliness in election and registered voters can be required to undergo it,” said Far Eastern University law dean Mel Sta Maria. “But to provide ‘deactivation’ as punishment for non-compliance is as disproportionate as it can get – an overkill, repulsive to what participatory democracy is all about.”

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About Justin Lee

Justin Lee has been a contributor with Biometric Update since 2014. Previously, he was a staff writer for web hosting magazine and website, theWHIR. For more than a decade, Justin has written for various publications on issues relating to technology, arts and culture, and entertainment. Follow him on Twitter @BiometricJustin.