CHR welcomes SC’s decision to allow PDLs to vote

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) fully welcomes the Supreme Court’s decision to allow Persons Deprived of Liberty (PDLs) to vote in national and local elections.

” We echo the High Court’s assertion that the Comelec Resolution—contrary to the petitioner’s arguments that it was ‘unconstitutional’ and that it ‘violates the equal protection of laws by favoring PDL voters over other classes of voters’—does not pose a conflict of legal rights.

The enforcement of such, in no way, diminishes the petitioner’s or anyone else’s rights.

By upholding PDLs’ right to suffrage, the SC only ensures the fair and equal political franchise of all qualified citizens in the country,” said Executive Director Atty. Jaqueline De Guia.

According to her, CHR has always maintained PDLs’ right to electoral participation.

During the legal proceedings of this case, CHR served as amicus curiae to the High Court, sharing our data and insights on the rights of PDLs for the judiciary’s consideration.

Prior to this, in 2009, former CHR Chairperson Leila De Lima, in behalf of the 4th CHR Commission en banc, submitted a petition[2] for the Comelec to establish guidelines and formulate rules and regulations for PDLs and the exercise of their right to vote.

Comelec Resolution No. 9371 is one of the many substantial outcomes of the collaborative efforts for the welfare of PDLs.

It is through the joint action of the Comelec, the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, the Philippine National Police, the Department of the Interior and Local Government, CHR, and other agencies that we are able to forward the inherent rights and dignity of PDLs.

“We thank the Comelec for standing by Comelec Resolution No. 9371 and for all related agencies in being allies in upholding human rights,” De Guia added.

It can be recalled that in 2012, a petition was filed with the SC seeking to thwart the implementation of Comelec Resolution No. 9371, which allows the participation of PDLs in the national and local elections.

The High Court partially granted the Petitioner’s application in 2016 and issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) for its application on local level elections.

On 26 August 2022, the SC publicly released a 9-page ruling[1] unanimously dismissing the petition against the Comelec resolution, thereby effectively lifting the TRO.

The decision, penned by Associate Justice Jhosep Lopez, explains that the petitioner’s arguments failed to present a substantive case that warrants a judicial review.

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