Comelec chief: Village, youth councils ought to be abolished

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Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. INQUIRER.net FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Smarting from the unruly hordes of registrants who descended on election offices on Wednesday, Commission on Elections Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. called Thursday for the abolition of the barangay (village) and Sangguniang Kabataan (youth council).

Brillantes said the Election Registration Board  would also purge the list of new registrants to weed out those who illegally registered from July 22 to July 31.

He noted that a day before Wednesday’s deadline, the Comelec already recorded 1.2 million new registrants or 50 percent more than the 800,000 it had expected.

“Maybe a good way to stop this from happening again is to abolish the SK and also the barangay. We have been advocating that for a long time,” Brillantes said in an interview.

He urged President Aquino to at least certify pending bills in Congress calling for the postponement of the SK elections in October.

“Let’s see whether the barangay will run without the SK. If it will run without the SK, let’s abolish the youth councils,” he added.

Brillantes noted that SK candidates also resorted to the “hakot” system or herding supporters to local Comelec offices to register.

“We are teaching  them to resort to ‘hakot’ even at their young age,” he said.

Brillantes said that the unruly scenes outside Comelec offices on Wednesday were unprecedented and “abnormal.”

“What happened and the high number of people were abnormal. That cannot be ordinary. Did you see the large number of people? The unruly behavior? There was even a stampede. Has that happened before? No,” Brillantes said.

“My assessment there is that one candidate herded his supporters and his opponent saw this and did the same. So, they all ended up waiting,” he added.

Brillantes said he did not believe Filipino voters would, on their own, willingly suffer hunger, rain and exhaustion just to register.

“Ask them why they were willing to suffer under the rain, hunger and exhaustion? Are our voters now that motivated? I don’t think so,” Brillantes said.

“Most probably they were hakot, transferees, those who were paid, ‘flying voters,’ and those who were promised that they would not get benefits if they did not register. Who told them that? The candidates,” he added.

Brillantes said herding registrants was not illegal but the problem was that this discouraged or disenfranchised legitimate registrants.

Brillantes said the Election Registration Board would use the Comelec biometrics system and the automated fingerprint identification system to purge illegal registrants from the list of new voters.

“That’s going to be easy because we now have biometrics. We will see who registered twice or who transferred (precincts) without meeting the six-month residency requirement,” he said.

Brillantes said that as of Tuesday, the Comelec already recorded 2.3 million SK voters (those above 15 but below 18 years old) and 1.2 million regular voters.

“We already had 52 million voters registered last May. Why would there be another million? I’m sure we’re going to find many (illegal registrants),” Brillantes said.

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