Lanao del Sur has shorter voter listBy Edwin Fernandez, Richel Umel, Ryan Rosauro
MARAWI CITY, Philippines – The number of would-be voters in Lanao del Sur is now 16 percent smaller than the 522,000 previously registered and the new list is expected to be trimmed down some more when minors and multiple-registrants are eliminated, the Commission on Elections has announced.
Commissioner Armando Velasco told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone that following the 10-day general re-registration in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Lanao del Sur now has 439,782 voter-applicants.
This, he said, was 84 percent of the previous number of registered voters in the province, which was notorious for election fraud and other irregularities in the past.
Velasco, who was commissioner-in-charge for Lanao del Sur during the general list up that ended July 18, said he expected an even smaller number of registered voters after the Comelec weeded out minors and flying voters.
Instead of the applications going through hearings by the Election Registration Boards for approval, Velasco said, the applications, which contained biometric information of each would-be voter, would first undergo matching with the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) database of the Comelec.
This will expectedly sort out double registrants, he said, adding that the AFIS matching is 100 percent accurate.
“Even if different names are used, we can still determine those engaged in double registration. There are no two similar fingerprints,” he said.
Velasco said he has also instructed an inventory of all voter applications with annotations regarding suspected underaged registrants.
These will be automatically excluded from the AFIS matching process and will no longer be endorsed for the ERBs’ consideration, he said.
Because the AFIS matching will take two months to complete, Velasco said, the ERB hearings could be conducted by last week of September.
Velasco also said the Comelec hoped to start posting the names of registrants in the province for the public to examine. He said the public could also file objections if they find names that were not eligible for inclusion.
Velasco said the Comelec has made several towns priorities for scrutiny after noticing there was high turnout out of registrants there.
The towns were Maguing, Piagapo, Madalum, Bumbaran, Calanogas, Wao, Lumba-Bayabao, Buadipuso-Buntong, Kapai and Marantao.
In the case of Marawi City, the Comelec wanted to know why the turnout was low at only 68 percent of the voting population. In the old list, the city had 67,456 voters.
In Cotabato City, the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) said that in the five provinces of the ARMM, the minors who registered as voters accounted for 15 to 20 percent of the turnout.
“Still the nagging worry persists for me, for PPCRV, for our partners in ARMM, and should also worry all Filipinos who value fraud-free lists of voters as the roadmap to CHAMP (Clean, Honest, Accurate, Meaningful and Peaceful) elections in 2013: The advent of underage registrants/voters threatening the emergence of the new ARMM,” PPCRV head Henrietta de Villa said in a statement.
She said she hoped the Comelec could, indeed, weed out the ineligible voters as it had been trumpeting.