SC issues TRO vs. provisions of Overseas Voters Act

SC issues TRO vs. provisions of Overseas Voters Act

BAGUIO CITY — The Supreme Court (SC) has temporarily stopped implementation of some provisions of Republic Act No. 9189, or the “Overseas Voters Act”.

“In the matter of G.R. No. 223705 (Loida Nicolas-Lewis v. Commission on Elections) the Court En Banc partially granted the application for a Temporary Restraining Order and issued a TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER effective immediately and continuing until further orders from the Court ENJOINING the Comelec, its deputies, and other related instrumentalities from implementing the following: (i) Section 36.8 of Republic Act No. 9189 as amended by Republic Act No. 10590;3 and (ii) Section 74 (II)(8) and other related provisions of Comelec Resolution No. 10035 dated January 13, 2016, except within Philippine Embasses, Consulates, and other Posts where overseas voters may exercise their right to vote pursuant to the Overseas Absentee Voting System, where partisan political activities shall still be prohibited until further orders from the Court,” SC Public Information Office (PIO) Chief and Spokesman Atty. Theodore O. Te said in a press conference on Wednesday.

The SC also ordered respondent Comelec to comment on the petition within a non-extendible period of five days from notice.

The notice and TRO are to be served personally on the parties.

The SC was asked last Monday to declare unconstitutional a provision in the Overseas Voters Act.

Loida Nicolas Lewis, together with her legal counsel Atty. Ray Paolo Santiago, filed the petition for certiorari before the SC questioning the provision in Republic Act No. 9189, or the “Overseas Voters Act”, as amended by RA 10590, prohibiting partisan political activity abroad during the voting period.

Lewis is Chair of the US Pinoys for Good Governance while Santiago is the Executive Director of the Ateneo Human Rights Center Secretary General, Working Group for an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism.

The petitioner asked the SC to declare unconstitutional Section 36 of RA 9189 arguing that they cannot anymore campaign since April 9, 2016 for the May 9, 2016 elections.

She said that they already scheduled campaign sorties in Chicago, United States; Milan, Italy; New York, United States and Malta, but which were cancelled because of the resolution of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) prohibiting any partisan activity outside the Philippines from April 9, 2016 to May 9, 2016.

The petitioner also asked the SC to immediately issue a TRO or writ of preliminary injunction against the order of the Comelec and the provision of the Overseas Voters Act prohibiting the Filipinos abroad from engaging in partisan political activity. Perfecto Raymundo/PNA