SC suit challenges ban on overseas campaign

A petition before the Supreme Court (SC) wants to nullify the prohibition under Overseas Absentee Voting Act against campaign abroad during the election period.

In a 20-page petition, Loida Nicolas-Lewis of the US Pinoys for Good Governance asked the High Court to also issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the implementation of the ban under Section 36.8 of Republic Act 9189 and Section 74 (2) (8) of Comelec Resolution No. 10035.
Through lawyer Ray Paolo Santiago of Ateneo Human Rights Center, the suit argued that the prohibition on “election campaign” and “partisan political activity” during the 30-day absentee voting abroad is unconstitutional as it violates the right to assembly and freedom of expression.
“It is also settled in jurisprudence that any prior restriction of protected speech is presumed unconstitutional, and the governing body restraining such speech is burdened with proving that such measure is justifiable and valid,” the petition stated.
The petitioner added that the provision in the law violates the constitutional rights to due process and equal protection of laws.
She says the ban is unfair because the ban on campaign in the country only covers two days before the election day.
“Undoubtedly, there are substantial distinctions between overseas Filipino voters and those voting within the Philippines. The most glaring of which is that the overseas Filipino voters are allowed to vote within a period of 30-days,” petitioner stressed.
The petitioner also asked the SC to issue the TRO and allow campaign activities abroad during the absentee voting for Filipinos overseas that has already started last April 9 and will end on election day, May 9.

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