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SC junks petition to compel Comelec consultation on AES

The Supreme Court has dismissed a petition that sought to compel the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to issue implementing rules and regulations (IRR) and conduct public consultations regarding the automated election system (AES).

In a 13-page decision promulgated in June 2023, the SC En Ban dismissed the petition filed by the Kilusan ng Mamamayan para sa Matuwid na Bayan (KMMB) and its member organizations Capitol Christian Leadership, Buklod Pamilya Incorporated, KMP Koalisyon Pangkaunlaran ng Mamamayan, KNK Anak ng Diyos Kadugo ni Kristo, and others.

“We dismiss the petition and deny the prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order or any injunctive relief. At the outset, the petition suffers from procedural defects,” the court said.

The KMMB sought to compel the poll body to comply with an alleged mandatory public consultation when formulating implementing rules over the national and local elections.

It argued that Comelec committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when it refused to act on the KMMB’s request to issue an IRR on the “selection of the election system to be used during Philippine elections.”

The petitioners argued that the absence of an IRR is “a major reason for the unfaithful implementation of the law” on the automation of elections.

Aside from this, the KMMB also sought a temporary restraining order and/or the appropriate injunctive relief to stop Comelec from utilizing Smartmatic, its vote counting machines (VCMs), precinct count optical scanner (PCOS), and other gadgets and instruments for the 2022 elections.

“[P]etitioners failed to substantiate their allegation that there are no implementing rules for some of the crucial safeguards in the conduct of automated elections,” it said.

The SC noted that the poll body issued Comelec Resolution No. 10088, which serves as guidelines for the 2016 elections. It said these were among the measures of Comelec to ensure the integrity of the elections. 

Meanwhile, the SC said that not all of the petitioners were able to prove their legal standing.

—VAL, GMA Integrated News