Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Comelec bares new voter registration schedule

December 16, 2009, 5:37pm

Original Story:

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said Wednesday that it will ask the Supreme Court to reconsider its decision extending to January 9, 2010 the registration of voters for the May 10, 2010 polls, stressing that it will jeopardize preparations for the country’s first automated polls.

Comelec Law Department Director Ferdinand T. Rafanan said they have already started drafting the motion for reconsideration so it can be filed as early as possible since the High Court’s verdict is immediately executory.

Rafanan said that in the meantime, the Comelec has drawn up a tentative schedule of voters’ registration in case the SC does not reconsider.

“In deference to the SC, nag-prepare na ang senior staff ng tentative schedule of the dates for registration as recommended by the SC,” Rafanan said.

The tentative dates for registration are the following: December 21, 22, 23, 28, and 29.

The posting of the list of applications for registration is tentatively set on January 4 while the filing of opposition to any application for registration is on January 6.

“Yan ang tentative schedule kung hindi ma-clarify o ma-reconsider na yung decision ng SC,” Rafanan said.

“It will affect the timelines and our preparation for automation but we will have to make do with what is there in accordance with the decision and we can see that the Comelec will be operating under very difficult circumstances, but I believe we can do it,” he said.

He said that as a constitutional office, the Comelec under the leadership of Chairman Jose A.R. Melo, will have to follow the Supreme Court decision regardless of its impact on poll preparations.

He said the original October 31 deadline for the registration of voters was not extended despite mounting public pressure as the Comelec was scheduled to come out with the list of voters by February.

The original October 31 deadline was set by the Comelec pursuant to the power granted it by the Poll Automation Law, the Omnibus Election Code and laws to draw up a calendar of activities to ensure peaceful and orderly elections, it was pointed out.

In automated elections, the list of voters has to be ready by February since the Precinct Court Optical Scan (PCOS) machines that will be used in the polls have to be customized, Rafanan explained.

In case the High Court’s verdict stays, the Comelec will have to prepare a new list of voters, taking into account the new registrants up to January 9, 2010.

Rafanan said the lists that were already prepared by city, municipal and district officers will not be exactly useless but they have to be revised to include the new registrants in case the High Court’s verdict is not reconsidered.

On Tuesday, the SC upheld the petition of the Kabataan party-list directing the commission to extend voter registration until January 9.

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