Comelec allows ‘hakot’ crowds to register for 2016 elections
MANILA, Philippines—Believe it or not, the hakot (bused-in) crowd is welcome at Commission on Elections (Comelec) offices beginning Tuesday, when voter registration for the 2016 elections begins.
Normally, the Comelec dissuades politicians from busing in registrants to its offices but this time it would allow the gimmick if it would bring people to enlist as voters as early as possible.
Voter registration begins Tuesday, May 6, and ends on Oct. 31, 2015.
“Mobilizing registrants is OK. We are not prohibiting it. What we are against is the hakot during election day,” said Comelec spokesman James Jimenez in an interview with reporters.
“For registration, ultimately, our goal is the more people that register, the better,” Jimenez said.
He suggested that those who bring in hakot registrants prioritize the 9.6-million registered voters who may be disenfranchised should they fail to have their biometrics data taken.
The Mandatory Biometrics Registration Act of 2013, or Republic Act No. 10367, states that voters without their biometrics recorded prior to the May 2016 elections shall be deactivated from the voters list and shall not be allowed to vote.
Biometrics data refers to the automated identification of an individual, particularly his/her photograph, fingerprint and signature, as captured by the Comelec’s Voter Registration Machine.
“If they are to mobilize the voters, we hope they will give more attention to those needing to have their biometrics data captured and not just the [new voters]. This is because they have more time to do it while registered voters (without biometrics) don’t. That is depressing,” said Jimenez.
He said the Comelec was not worried about encouraging flying voters by allowing bused-in registrants as the agency is capable of weeding them out before the 2016 elections.
“We are confident that with our Automated Fingerprint Identification System that even if there will be hakot voters on election day involving registrants in other areas, they will not be able to vote in another precinct,” said the Comelec official.
He was referring to the system that allows the election body to cross-match biometric registrations of voters to eliminate double and multiple registrants in the voters list.
In the previous voter registration in 2012, Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. discouraged politicians from resorting to tricks that would add to the chaos that usually attend the last day of voter registration in Comelec offices nationwide.
Brillantes had warned against hakot crowds on the last day of registration as this usually derailed the enlisting of legitimate voters.