SC: 'None of the above,' 'the above only' cannot be on ballot

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday, January 26, junked a petition seeking to include "none of the above" (NOTA) and "the above only" (TAO) as choices on the ballot for the 2016 elections.

The High Tribunal dismissed the petition for mandamus filed by Bishop Reuben Abante, lawyers Eduardo Bringas and Amor Perdigon, and Moses Rivera for lack of merit.

The SC also denied the application for a temporary restraining order.

The petitioners earlier asked the SC to compel the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to include NOTA and TAO on the ballot to encourage the public to vote. They said that voters who do not want to select the candidates written on the ballot will be left with no option but to "waive the exercise of their right to vote."

"If this is the case, then there are no free elections because the electorate is being forced to either choose from the list of candidates or is deemed to have chosen not to exercise his right of suffrage," they said.

Adding NOTA and TAO as choices would also act as safeguards against cheating, they added.

"Moreover, a TAO vote will prevent the automated counting of candidates on ballots where voters voted less than the number of the total seats available for the position," the petitioners said.

The petitioners had wanted a NOTA option among the choices for the positions of president, vice president, member of the House of Representatives, governor, vice governor, mayor, and vice mayor.

For the positions of senator and members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, Sangguniang Panlungsod and Sangguniang Bayan, the petitioners wanted the TAO option to be included.