Comelec not discounting possibility of postponing the May polls

By Ferdinand G. Patinio

MANILA, Dec. 7 (PNA) — In the event the Supreme Court (SC) failed to lift the temporary restraining order (TRO) on the “No Bio, No Boto” policy, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) is not discounting the possibility of postponing the May 2016 elections.

Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista explained that in case they cannot meet the timelines on their preparation, they might result in moving the forthcoming polls.

“In case we failed to meet the timelines, we might be forced to postpone it (elections) but ‘no elections’ (no-el) is not feasible,” he noted.

Bautista also pointed out the “material impact” that the TRO has on their preparations since having the final number of registered voters has a domino effect.

These include finalizing the Project of Precincts, official ballots to be printed, number of vote counting machines, and number of election supplies and forms.

Bautista added that if there is a need to postpone the elections, it should be held not later than June 30, which is the expiration of the terms of incumbent officials.

“In fact, hindi pwede ilalagay mo masyado malapit (sa June 30) kasi nga yung transition e. Yung bilangan pa. So kailangan dapat merong buffer,” the poll body chief said.

However, Bautista noted that they were not yet preparing for a scenario for postponing the May 2016 elections.

“We have not tackled that…there is no scenario on postponement,” he said.

With this, Bautista revealed that they are preparing their comment, to lift the TRO and to hold an oral argument on the petition filed by the Kabataan party-list.

“We will ask the SC if they can lift the TRO and discuss the case. We are ready to talk about it through oral arguments,” he said.

Bautista added that he planned to write the High Court explaining the possible effects of the TRO to their preparation.

“We want to tell them that this no longer a legal issue but more of practical and operational issues about our preparations for next year’s elections,” he said.

On the other hand, the poll body chief explained that the no-el was not among the contingencies they were looking at.

“I did not say that there will be no elections. I think the elections should push through. It is stated in the Constitution that the polls should be conducted on the second Monday of May. May 9, 2016. That is where we are focused,” said Bautista.

On Monday, it was reported that the Comelec warned of a “no-el” scenario because of a persistent TRO that may affect the preparation for the forthcoming polls.

Last week, the SC issued a TRO against the “No Bio, No Boto” policy, which is anchored on the Republic Act No. 10367 or the Mandatory Biometrics Registration Law of 2013. (PNA)