Biometrics to weed out illegal registrants
Smarting from the unruly hordes of registrants who descended on election offices on Wednesday, Commission on Elections Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said the Election Registration Board (ERB) would 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.
Brillantes said the ERB 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.
In Cebu, the Comelec received the application of more than 76,000 new voters for the barangay elections in October. About 14,000 of the registrants were in Cebu City while close to 5,000 were in the city of Talisay, according to Comelec provincial election officer Ferdinand Gujilde.
The poll body was also able to process the application of 138,000 registrants for the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections, with Cebu City accounting for 16,000 with the city of Mandaue coming next with close to 8,000.
The numbers shown by Gujilde were taken from Comelec’s records of the registration in all the towns and cities of the province after the end of its 10-day registration last Wednesday.
The applications will be screened by the ERB with the final list of voters to be released on August 12.
Meanwhile, the names of all the applicants, he said, will be posted at city and town halls and in Comelec offices on August 5.
“I want to remind them that these are all mere applications, they are not yet official voters until they get approval,” he told reporters yesterday.
He said the screening will help determine who among them are “flying voters” considering that many registrants were bused in by politicians during the registration period.
Comelec Chairman Brillantes said herding registrants was not illegal but the problem was that this discouraged or disenfranchised legitimate registrants.
He 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,” Brillantes 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. /Inquirer with Correspondent Peter L. Romanillos
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