DAVAO CITY – The Commission on Elections XI reported that half of the more than 170,000 voters in the region who have no biometrics, or around 87,000 voters in Davao City will not be able to vote on the next elections.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled to lift the temporary restraining order on the “No Bio, No Boto” policy saying the petition lacked merit.

The Republic Act No. 10367 or the Mandatory Biometrics Law, which was approved on February 15, 2013, provides for mandatory biometrics voter registration in the Comelec’s bid to keep the list of voters clean, complete, permanent, and updated.

The petition for certiorari and prohibition was filed by Kabataan Partylist Representative Terry Ridon on November 25 arguing that this hindered the right to suffrage of Filipinos.

In a previous statement, Rocha Mae Bihag, regional coordinator of Kabataan Partylist in Northern Mindanao said they “see ‘No Bio, No Boto’ policy as a repressive sugar-coated tactics by the Comelec to hinder the democratic right to suffrage of the Filipino citizens on their ability to choose among the candidates for the 2016 election.”

“The policy itself gives meticulous process to our fellow citizens and became a burden to our aspiring voters, especially those who have difficulties on accessing the Comelec offices,” Bihag said.

The SC voted unanimously on dissolving the TRO issued on December 1.

Comelec 11 assistant regional director Marlon Casquejo said they have already completed the list of voters in the region last December 5.

Casquejo said the region has 2,659,766 registered voters. He said Davao City has 873,674 voters, which is lower compared to more than 980,000 voters last 2013.

Casquejo said they have already made the clustering of precincts.

Meanwhile, Comelec 11 said they have not yet received any report on election-related violence.

Casquejo also said that there is no nuisance candidate declared in Davao City.

“Here in Davao City, there is no nuisance candidate declared and the Comelec has not handled a case with regards to nuisance candidate. No petition was filed to declare a candidate as nuisance),” said Casquejo.

He said the Comelec en banc has yet to decide on the validity of the substitution of candidates.

“We do not have the complete list of candidates yet. The law department has not sent the final list of our candidates,” he said.

Casquejo also said they see elections to be peaceful in Davao City.

“Dito naman sa Davao City, wala masyadong political rivalry,” he said.

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte withdrew his certificate of candidacy for mayor on November 27 to run for president. His daughter, former mayor, Inday Sara Duterte has also filed her COC to substitute him. Two other candidates namely Alfredo Lamela Tocante and Teodoro Peña Mantilla will run for mayor here.

Duterte’s son, incumbent vice mayor Paolo Duterte is also seeking re-election and is the only candidate for vice mayor.

“Davao City is peaceful and it is going to be more peaceful because the concentration of the candidates, even the candidates here is how to support the mayor in his presidency,” said Casquejo.

He also said they are expecting a higher percentage of voting with 80-90 percent of voter turn-out. (With a report from Mae Love Deseo, Davao Today intern)

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