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Numbers validate fewer voters in ARMM

/ 11:32 PM July 26, 2012

MARAWI CITY—Numbers don’t lie.

Officials involved in a new registration of voters in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to replace voters’ lists that had been nullified for being bloated said the number of new registrants emerging from the new registration process is validating what election workers have long been suspecting—that voters’ lists in ARMM had been tampered with.

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In Lanao del Sur alone, the new registration of voters indicated that the actual number of voters is about 16 percent lower than what had been listed in the province’s nullified voting list which contained 522,000 names.

Elections Commissioner Armando Velasco said in a phone interview that 439,782 people registered as voters in Lanao del Sur at the end of the 10-day re-registration of voters in ARMM.

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The figure was more than 80,000 lower than what had been listed in the nullified voters’ list of the province, which had gained notoriety for poll fraud.

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In other parts of the ARMM, according to Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez, the figures tend to show also a decline in the number of registered voters.

In Basilan, 155,831 people registered compared to the old list of 179,811 voters. In Tawi-Tawi, 135,829 registered compared to the old list of 167,610 voters. In Sulu, 300,611 registered compared to 341,536 in the old list. In Maguindanao, 536,356 registered compared to 567,443 in the old list.

Velasco, commissioner in charge of Lanao del Sur, said officials expect the number of voters to be smaller as minors and so-called flying voters, or people who tried to register in but are not residents of the province, will surely be removed from the list.

He said biometrics would help Comelec ferret out illegal registrants. Biometrics is a system of determining identity through what are considered to be tamper proof marks like a person’s fingerprints.

Tamper proof

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“Even if they used fictitious names, we can still determine those engaged in double registration. There are no two similar fingerprints,” said Velasco.

He said he also ordered an inventory of all application forms that had been marked because they had been filled out by minors.

“These would be automatically excluded,” said Velasco. The fingerprint matching could take up to two months to complete, however, he said.

Velasco said Comelec has given priority to closer scrutiny of registrants in several towns that had a high turnout of registrants.

The towns are Maguing, Piagapo, Madalum, Bumbaran, Calanogas, Wao, Lumba-Bayabao, Buadipuso-Buntong, Kapai and Marantao.

‘Nagging worry’

In Cotabato City, the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) said in the five provinces of ARMM, the number of minors who tried to register as voters made up 15 to 20 percent of the turnout.

The attempt to register minors as voters, said PPCRV head Henrietta de Villa in a statement, is a “nagging worry that persists for me.” Ryan Rosauro, Richel Umel and Edwin Fernandez, Inquirer Mindanao

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TAGS: ARMM, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Elections
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