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AKBAYAN-YOUTH v.

COMELEC
Facts:
1. Petitioners represent the youth sector and they seek to
seek to direct COMELEC to conduct a special
registration before the May 14, 2001 General
Elections, of new voters ages 18 to 21. [2-day special
additional registration of new voters only on Feb 17
and 18, 2001]
a. around four million youth failed to register on or
before the December 27, 2000 deadline set by
the respondent COMELEC.
2. COMELEC issued Resolution No. 3584 disapproving the
request for additional registration of voters
a. 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.
3. Petitioners filed before the SC a petitioner for certiorari
and mandamus
a. To set aside and nullify respondent COMELECs
Resolution; and/or
b. To declare Section 8 of R. A. 8189
unconstitutional insofar as said provision
effectively causes the disenfranchisement of
petitioners and others similarly situated.
4. 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.
Issues:
1. Whether or not respondent COMELEC committed grave
abuse of discretion in issuing COMELEC Resolution
2. Whether or not the SC can compel respondent
COMELEC to conduct a special registration of new
voters during the period between the COMELECs
imposed December 27, 2000 deadline and the May 14,
2001 general elections.
Held:

FIRST ISSUE: COMELEC RESOLUTION. No


The right of suffrage invoked by petitioners is not at all
absolute.
The exercise of the right of suffrage, as in the
enjoyment of all other rights is subject to existing
substantive and procedural requirements embodied in
our Constitution, statute books and other repositories
of law.
As to the procedural limitation, the right of a citizen to
vote is necessarily conditioned upon certain procedural
requirements he must undergo: among others, the
process of registration.
o A citizen in order to be qualified to exercise his
right to vote, in addition to the minimum
requirements set by the fundamental charter, is
obliged by law to register, at present, under the
provisions of Republic Act No. 8189, otherwise
known as the Voters Registration Act of 1996.
Registration
is
an
indispensable
precondition to the right of suffrage.
Registration is a part and parcel of the
right to vote and an indispensable
element in the election process.
State in the exercise of its police power
may enact laws to safeguard and regulate
the act of voters registration.
o Section 8, of the R.A. 8189, explicitly provides
that xxx No registration shall, however, be
conducted during the period starting one
hundred twenty (120) days before a regular
election and ninety (90) days before a special
election.
o Likewise, Sec. 351 of RA 8189, among others,
speaks of a prohibitive period within which to
file a sworn petition for the exclusion of voters
from the permanent voters list.

"SEC. 35. Petition for Exclusion of Voters from the List - Any registered voter,
representative of a political party x x x may file x x x except one hundred (100) days
prior to a regular election xxx."

The 100-day prohibitive period serves a


vital role in protecting the integrity of the
registration process.
Without the prohibitive periods, the
COMELEC would be deprived of any time
to evaluate the evidence on the
application. If we compromise on these
safety nets, we may very well end up with
a voters list full of flying voters,
overflowing with unqualified registrants,
populated with shadows and ghosts.

Petitioners invoke the so called standby powers or


residual powers of the COMELEC, as provided under
the relevant provisions of Sec. 282 of RA 8436.
o The act of registration is, by its very nature, a
pre-election act.
o Registration - act of accomplishing and filing of
a sworn application for registration by a
qualified voter before the election officer of the
city or municipality wherein he resides and
including the same in the book of registered
voters
upon
approval
by
the
Election
Registration Board.
Provisions of Section 29 of R.A. 8436 invoked by herein
petitioners and Section 8 of R.A. 8189 volunteered by
respondent COMELEC, far from contradicting each
other. These provisions share a common ground and
are capable of being harmonized and reconciled.
Section 8 of R.A. 8189 applies in the present
case, for the purpose of upholding the assailed
COMELEC Resolution and denying the instant

2 "SEC. 28. Designation of other Dates for Certain Pre-election Acts - If it should no
longer be possible to observe the periods and dates prescribed by law for certain
pre-election acts, the Commission shall fix other periods and dates in order to
ensure accomplishments of the activities so voters shall not be deprived of their
right to suffrage."

petitions, considering that the aforesaid law


explicitly provides that no registration shall be
conducted during the period starting one
hundred twenty (120) days before a regular
election. The provisions of Section 28, R.A. 8436
would come into play in cases where the preelection acts are susceptible of performance
within the available period prior to election day.
o The stand-by power of the respondent
COMELEC under Section 28 of R.A. 8436,
presupposes the possibility of its being
exercised or availed of, and not otherwise.

Section 28 of R.A. 8436 is anchored on the sound


premise that these certain "pre-election acts" are still
capable of being reasonably performed vis-a-vis the
remaining period before the date of election and the
conduct of other related pre-election activities required
under the law.
Respondent COMELEC thoroughly emphasized the
"operational impossibility" of conducting a special
registration, which in its on language, "can no longer
be accomplished within the time left to the
Commission."

SECOND ISSUE: Mandamus. NO


As an extraordinary writ, the remedy of mandamus lies
only to compel an officer to perform a ministerial duty,
not a discretionary one; mandamus will not issue to
control the exercise of discretion of a public officer
where the law imposes upon him the duty to exercise
his judgment in reference to any manner in which he is
required to act, because it is his judgment that is to be
exercised and not that of the court
petitioners failed to establish, to the satisfaction of the
SC, that they are entitled to the issuance of this
extraordinary writ so as to effectively compel

respondent COMELEC to conduct a special registration


of voters.
the determination of whether or not the conduct of a
special registration of voters is feasible, possible or
practical within the remaining period before the actual

date of election, involves the exercise of discretion and


thus, cannot be controlled by mandamus.