Supreme Court TRO threatens Philippine elections

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For the second time, an order from the Supreme Court (SC) is threatening the schedule for the May 2016 presidential elections.

Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres Bautista said the poll body might have to postpone the elections because of a recent temporary restraining order (TRO) from the SC.

The SC issued a TRO on December 1 against the Comelec’s “No Bio, No Boto” (No Biometrics, No Vote) policy. This TRO stopped the Comelec from deactivating the registration of 2.5 million voters who failed to have their biometrics taken for the 2016 elections.

Bautista said the TRO will derail the Comelec in its preparations. He pointed out that the Comelec is also handling disqualification cases against presidential bets.

“Maraming hamon kaming hinaharap. E kami naman, ginagawa namin ang lahat ng magagawa para ma-meet natin ‘yung deadline,” Bautista said. (We’re facing many challenges. We’re doing all that we can to meet the deadline.)

“Pero kung mangyari na, kumbaga, hindi namin kakayanin, anong gagawin natin? Baka kailangan nating i-postpone ‘yung ating halalan,” Bautista said. (But if it so happens that, in a way, we can’t make it, what can we do? We might need to postpone the elections.)

The Comelec said it needs to finalize the list of voters by December 15.

Bautista said the problem is, the SC is soon taking its Christmas break. He also heard reports that Tuesday, December 8, might be the SC’s last full session before the holidays.

“Our request is, if possible, it will be better if they will first lift the TRO. If they want to hold oral arguments, we will be ready for it,” Bautista said.

He added that before issuing the TRO, the SC should have consulted the Comelec first through oral arguments.

He would have wanted to present the Comelec’s timeline, he said.

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