Comelec denies Aquino request to register ARMM voters anew
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has rejected Malacañang’s proposal of a general reregistration of voters in the five provinces that make up the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), except in Maguindanao.
In an interview with reporters, Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said the commissioners decided in an en banc meeting last week to deny President Benigno Aquino III’s wish to annul the existing voters’ list and conduct a new general registration as part of electoral reforms in the ARMM.
There are at least 1.71 million registered voters in the region based on the 2010 barangay balloting.
“We did not allow it,” said Brillantes, adding that they only agreed to clean the slate in Maguindanao because of an existing petition to junk the voters list in the province.
Brillantes said it was a “case-to-case” basis in the other provinces, where a petition for reregistration may be filed for a particular area where alleged irregularities transpired.
Mr. Aquino had cited the need for electoral reforms in the ARMM when he urged Congress to pass legislation postponing the August 2011 ARMM elections synchronizing them with the national midterm and congressional elections next year.
Last month, the President asked the Comelec to hold a reregistration of voters in the ARMM using biometric machines to ensure a credible 2013 poll in the region.
Under the biometrics system, the election body could cross-match data to check if voters had double or multiple registrations.
Before the en banc decision, Brillantes had hinted that the election body was not inclined to proceed with a general registration because “it would be difficult to meet the timeline.”
For his part, Commissioner Rene Sarmiento said the poll body had discovered roughly 134,000 double and multiple registrants in the ARMM.
“Our election officers and senior directors there have already cleaned the list,” said Sarmiento. The new list contains some 101,000 registrants, he added.
He also said that about 184,000 residents of the region had yet to register under the biometrics system.