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ISSUE: Is RA 9189 [Overseas Absentee Voting Act of 2003], valid & constitutional?
FACTS: A petition for certiorari and prohibition filed by Romulo B. Macalintal, a member of the Philippine Bar, seeking a declaration that certain provisions of Republic Act No. 9189 (The Overseas Absentee Voting Act of 2003) suffer from constitutional infirmity. Claiming that he has actual and material legal interest in the subject matter of this case in seeing to it that public funds are properly and lawfully used and appropriated, petitioner filed the instant petition as a taxpayer and as a lawyer. Petitioner posits that Section 5(d) is unconstitutional because it violates Section 1, Article V of the 1987 Constitution which requires that the voter must be a resident in the Philippines for at least one year and in the place where he proposes to vote for at least six months immediately preceding an election. Petitioner cites the ruling of the Court in Caasi vs. Court of Appeals to support his claim. In that case, the Court held that a green card holder immigrant to the United States is deemed to have abandoned his domicile and residence in the Philippines.
DECISION: Partly granted.
RATIO DECIDENDI: Contrary to petitioner’s claim that Section 5(d) circumvents the Constitution, Congress enacted the law prescribing a system of overseas absentee voting in compliance with the constitutional mandate. Such mandate expressly requires that Congress provide a system of absentee voting that necessarily presupposes that the “qualified citizen of the Philippines abroad” is not physically present in the country. The petition was partly granted, Sections 17(a), 18(b), 19(c), 20(d) are declared void for being repugnant to Section 1, Article IX-A of the Constitution mandating the independence of constitutional commission, such as COMELEC. Pursuant to Section 30 of RA No. 9189, the rest of the provisions of said law continues to be in full force and effect.
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