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House leader asks Comelec: One more day for biometrics registration

A leader in the House of Representatives on Wednesday appealed to the Commission on Elections to give voters without biometric one more day to have their registration records updated.

Minority Floor Leader Ronaldo Zamora said the Comelec should give one more chance for the estimated 2.5 million voters without biometrics to register so they could vote next year.

“The Comelec should set aside one more day for those without biometrics to have these things taken. As it is masyadong malaki ang figure ng mga hindi puwedeng makaboto just because they failed to have their biometrics taken. Parang mali din ‘yun,” he told reporters in the House of Representatives.

Zamora made the call after the Supreme Court upheld the legality of Comelec's "no bio, no boto" policy for the 2016 national elections.

Zamora said the poll body should exert all means to ensure that as many voters are able to exercise their right to suffrage.

“[By setting aside one more day for voters’ registration], at least you gave everybody a chance. If the Comelec has to spend a little more money for it, let’s do it,” he said.

Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court dismissed a petition for certiorari and prohibition from a group led by the Kabataan party-list.

In a media briefing, SC spokesman Theodore Te said the petition was denied for lack of merit and that temporary restraining order issued by the high court last December 1 has now been ordered "dissolved."

In its ruling, the high court distinguished between the concept of "qualification" and "registration" in the elections, saying the latter is merely a means with which a person's qualifications to vote are determined.

The petitioners, in contesting the legality of the deactivation of the registration of voters without biometrics, have asked the SC to enjoin the implementation of the provisions of Republic Act No. 10367 or the Mandatory Biometrics Law and nullify Comelec resolution No. 9721, 9863, and 10013, which are all related to the deactivation of voter registration records in the May 9, 2016 national and local elections.

Comelec chair Andres Bautista has defended the “No Bio, No Boto” policy by saying that it has the good intention of weeding out flying or dead voters from the official voters’ list.

In a separate interview, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said it is only fitting for the high court to uphold the “No Bio, No Boto” policy’s constitutionality given that it is anchored on a law. He said politicians should have used their clout in amassing supporters to encouraging voters to have their biometrics taken.

“The politicians should have brought their supporters to local Comelec offices to register so they would be able to comply with the law. But the Comelec has good intentions for its ‘No Bio, No Boto” policy and I’m happy that the Supreme Court saw it that way,” Belmonte said.

The Speaker said voters who will be unable to vote in the upcoming polls due to lack of biometrics should not blame the Comelec for their disenfranchisement since the poll body gave ample time for individuals to set their records straight.

“If you’re unable to vote because you didn’t register, don’t blame us. Blame yourself,” he said. —ALG, GMA News