Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Voters listing extended; shortlist of ’10 bets out

By Marie Surbano and Benjamin B. Pulta

Original Story: http://www.tribune.net.ph/headlines/20091216hed2.html

The Supreme Court (SC) yesterday allowed the registration of voters for next year’s elections extended until Jan.9 even as the Commission on Elections (Comelec) released the shortlist of candidates that included eight contenders each for the president and vice president posts.

Comelec Chairman Jose Melo said the SC order might affect the poll agency’s preparation for the forthcoming elections.

Melo said their timeline would be interrupted once the extended voters’ registration is realized.

The high tribunal found merit in the petition filed by Raymond Palatino, a youth sectoral representative under the Kabataan Party-list, and other concerned citizens and declared null and void Comelec Resolution 8585 which, among other things, set a deadline on voters registration last Oct. 31.

The tribunal also directed the Comelec to proceed with dispatch in reopening the registration of voters until Jan. 9.

Melo, meanwhile, said the eight qualified to contest the presidency included former President Joseph Estrada of Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP), Sen. Manuel Villar of the Nacionalista Party (NP), Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Simeon Aquino of the Liberal Party (LP), former Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro of the ruling Lakas-Kampi-CMD, John Carlos delos Angeles of Ang Kapatiran, evangelist Eddie Villanueva of Bangon Pilipinas, Sen. Richard Gordon of Bagumbayan party and Sen. Ma. Ana Consuelo Madrigal, who is running as an independent.

For the vice presidential race, the Comelec shortlisted Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay of PDP-Laban, Nationalist People’s Coalition Party’s (NPC) Loren Legarda, Lakas-Kampi-CMD party’s Eduardo Manzano, Manuel “Mar” Roxas of the Liberal Party, Ang Kapatiran’s Dominador Chipeco Jr., Bagumbayan’s Bayani Fernando, Jose “Jay” Sonza of the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL) and Perfecto Yasay of Bangon Pilipinas Party.

Melo explained that the names of the eight presidential and vice presidential candidates in the initial list were given due course pending the resolution of the five disqualification cases filed against Aquino, Estrada, Teodoro, Villar and Roxas. Melo said they are set to discuss this disqualification cases next week.

Melo said the Comelec wanted to speed up the process since it is scheduled to begin the printing of the ballots by Jan. 7 or 8.

On the issue that the high court rules after the ballots were printed Melo said one possible solutions is calibrating the voting machines, wherein the names of disqualified bets will not be counted and for the filing of substitution candidate.

But he admitted that the Comelec will have a problem on the possible substitution of a candidate because the automation law does not provide for the reading of names of a substitute candidate.

For the 158 applicants for senator, only 58 were allowed to be given due course.

Allowed to run for 12 senatorial seats were PMP’s JV Bautista, Joey de Venecia III, Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Jose Apolinario Lozada, PDP-Laban’s Henry Caunan and Gwendolyn Pimentel; People’s Reform Party’s Miriam Defensor-Santiago; and Grand Alliance for Democracy’s Francisco Tatad.

Also making the list were LP’s Nereus Acosta, Risa Hontiveros, Martin Bautista, Ruffy Biazon, Franklin Drilon, Teofisto Guingona III, Alexander Lacson, Yasmin Lao, Ralph Recto and Sonia Roco; Lakas-Kampi-CMD’s Silvestre Bello III, Bong Revilla Jr., Ramon Guico, Raul Lambino, Rey Langit and Lito Lapid.

NP stalwarts Pia Cayetano, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Ramon Mitra, Susan Ople, Ariel Querubin, Gilbert Remulla and Adel Tamano; NPC’s Roldolfo Plaza and Vicente Sotto III also were on the list.

Ang Kapatiran’s Rizalito David, Jo Imbong, Zosimo Paredes, Maria Gracia Piñozo-Plazo, Adrian Sison, Reginald Tamayo, Hector Tarrazona and Manuel Valdehuesa; Bangon Pilipinas’ Zafrullah Alonto, Kata Inocencio, Ramoncito Ocampo, Reynaldo Princesa, Alexander Tinsay and Israel Virgines.

Also Kilusang Bagong Lipunan’s Shariff Albani, Alma Lood, Regalado Maambong, Maria Judea Millora, Imelda Papin and Hector Villanueva; as well as independent running bets Satur Ocampo, Liza Maza, Sergio Osmeña III, Jovito Palparan and also made it to the list.

Meanwhile, Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento explained that the grounds in selecting the CoCs to be given due course are those with political party, are capable of waging a nationwide campaign and those who did not make a mockery of the electoral process.

The Commission also gave all disqualified candidates, in the meantime, five days to file their verified opposition.

Melo said they will come out with the final and official list of candidates “by the end of next week.”

The SC said that it did not find any ground to hold that the mandate of continuing voter registration cannot be reasonably held within the period provided by RA 8189, The Voter’s Registration Act of 1996.

“There is thus no occasion for the Comelec to exercise its power to fix other dates or deadlines therefor” it added.

The Court held that Congress itself has determined that the period of 120 days before a regular election and 90 days before a special election is enough time for the Comelec to make all the necessary preparations with respect to the coming elections.

The preparations include completion of project precincts, constitution of the Board of Election Inspectors, finalizing the Computerized Voters List, supervision of the campaign period, and preparation, bidding, printing, and distribution of Voter’s Information Sheet. The Court said that such determination of Congress is well within the ambit of its legislative power, which the High Court is bound to respect, and that the Comelecs rule-making power should be exercised in accordance with the prevailing law.

“The clear text of the law decrees that voters be allowed to register daily during regular offices hours, except during the period starting 120 days before a regular election and 90 days before a special election,” said the Court.

Original Story: http://www.tribune.net.ph/headlines/20091216hed2.html

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