With no Supreme Court intervention to stop it, the Philippines’ Commission on Elections (Comelec) went ahead and closed its biometric voter registration system in accordance with its October 31st deadline this weekend.
There had been some speculation that Comelec would be forced to extend the deadline, given a Supreme Court petition filed jointly by a number of organizations in the days leading to end of the enrolment period. While the Court was in recess, its Chief Justice could have chosen to take up the cause if she deemed it worthy of such an extraordinary measure.
She evidently didn’t, and former Comelec official Gregorio Larrazabal is now suggesting that further attempts to compel Comelec to extend registration could cause serious problems in the election process. As CNN Philippines reports, Larrazabal commented on social media that such a move could even thwart the national election itself.
While Larrazabal has some expertise as a lawyer, his comments also suggest a degree of exasperation on behalf of his former Comelec colleagues, with Larrazabal noting that petitions for registration extensions happen “almost every time” immediately before a deadline. Comelec has been on a major PR campaign for months trying to raise awareness about the new requirement that voters register their biometrics, and has made extensive efforts to facilitate that registration, including the implementation of satellite registration offices in shopping malls, the deployment of mobile registration units to rural areas, and more. Nevertheless, its registration centers saw a major uptick in attendance in the final days of the deadline, along with the petition for its extension.
Source: CNN Philippines
November 2, 2015 – by Alex Perala