Sunday, January 24, 2010


Facts: The petitioners, as representatives the youth sector, seeks to direct the COMELEC to conduct a special registration before the May 14, 2001 General Elections, of new voters ages 18 to 21 because around four million youth failed to register on or before the December 27, 2000 deadline set by the respondent under Republic Act No. 8189 (Voter's Registration Act of 1996). Acting on the clamor of the students and civic leaders, Senator Raul Roco, Chairman if the Committee on Electoral Reforms, Suffrage, and People's Participation, conducted a hearing attended by Commissioner Luzviminda G. Tancangco and Ralph C. Lantion, together with Consultant Resurreccion Z. Borra (now Commissioner). On January 29, 2001, Commissioners Tancangco and Lantion submitted a Memorandum No. 2001-027 on the Report on the Request for a Two-day Additional Registration of New Voters Only. Immediately, Commissioner Borra called a consultation meeting among regional heads and representatives, and a number of senior staff headed by Executive Director Mamasapunod Aguam. It was the consensus of the group, with the exception of Director Jose Tolentino, Jr., of the ASD, to disapproved the request for additional registration of voters on the ground that Section 8 of R.A. 8189 explicitly provides that no registration shall be conducted during the period starting one hundred twenty (120) days before a regular election and that the Commission has no more time left to accomplish all pre-election activities. On February 8, 2001, the COMELEC issued Resolution N. 3584 denying the request to conduct a two-day additional registration of new voters. Aggrieved by the denial, petitioners AKBAYAN-Youth, SCAP, UCSC, MASP, KOMPIL II (YOUTH) et. al. filed before this Court the instant Petition for Certiorari and Mandamus which seeks to set aside and nullify respondent COMELEC's Resolution and/or to declare Section 8 of R.A. 8189 unconstitutional insofar as said provision effectively causes the disenfranchisement of petitioners and others similarly situated. Likewise, petitioners pray for the issuance of a writ of mandamus directing respondent COMELEC to conduct a special registration of new voters and to admit for registration petitioners and other similarly situated young Filipinos to qualify them to vote in the May 14, 2001 General Elections. On March 09, 2001, herein petitioner Michelle Betito, a student of the University of the Philippines, likewise filed a Petition for Mandamus, praying that this Court direct the COMELEC to provide for another special registration day under the continuing registration provision under the Election code. This court resolved to consolidate the two petitions.


a. Whether or not respondent COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion in issuing COMELEC Resolution dated February 8, 2001.

b. Whether or not this Court can compel respondent COMELEC, through the extraordinary writ of mandamus, to conduct a special registration of new voters during the period between the COMELEC's imposed December 27, 2000 deadline and the May 14, 2001 general elections.

Held: Applying the foregoing, this Court is of the firm view that respondent COMELEC did not commit an abuse of discretion, much less be adjudged to have committed the same in some patent, whimsical and arbitrary manner, in issuing Resolution No, 3584 which, in respondent's own terms, resolved "to deny the request to conduct a two-day additional registration of new voters on February 17 and 18, 2001."

Finally, the Court likewise takes judicial notice of the fact that the President has issued Proclamation No. 15 calling Congress to a Special Session on March 18, 2001, to allow the conduct of Special Registration of new voters. House Bill No., 12930 has been filed before the Lower House, which bills seeks to amend R.A. 8189 as to the 120-day prohibitive period provided for under said law. Similarly, Senate Bill No. 2276 was filed before the Senate, with the same intention to amend the aforesaid law and, in effect, allow the conduct of special registration before the May 14, 2001 General Elections.This Court views the foregoing factual circumstances as a clear intimation on the part of both the executive and legislative departments that a legal obstacle indeed stands in the way of the conduct by the Commission on Elections of a special registration before May 14, 2001 General Elections.

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