43,000 flying voters found in ARMM, Calabarzon

January 23, 2010

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) yesterday reported the discovery of 43,000 multiple registrants despite having computerized the voters’ list.
Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento said the poll body found 43,000 voters from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and the Cavite-Laguna-Batangas-Rizal-Quezon (Calabarzon) area who have intentionally registered twice or even thrice.
“If you will look at the pictures, some just changed their hairstyles or used different clothes while some made themselves look a little older. So I think the double or triple registrations were done deliberately,” Sarmiento pointed out.
He said the poll body identified the multiple registrants through the use of data capturing machines or biometrics, which store the voters’ thumbprints, signatures and pictures.
According to Sarmiento, the poll body is likely to uncover more multiple registrants as they are now checking the list of voters in other regions.
Sarmiento said the Comelec plans to release a resolution ordering the delisting of multiple registrants from the official list of registered voters for the May 2010 elections.
The Comelec may also file the appropriate charges against the 43,000 multiple registrants, he said.
Under the law, a voter found guilty of registering more than once faces one to six years’ imprisonment without probation and a ban on holding public office.
Sarmiento said the discovery of the irregularity should send a strong warning to those with similar plans of registering more than once.
Extend registration
Sen. Loren Legarda yesterday urged the Comelec to extend the registration of Filipino voters in foreign countries “so as to extend to them the primary right of suffrage.”
There are an estimated eight to 10 million overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and emigrants, including dual citizens, abroad. Under Philippine election laws, they are all entitled to vote.
“The right to vote is the primary right of every Filipino citizen or dual citizen,” Legarda said. “It is the duty of the Comelec to provide them with the means to exercise that right as much as possible.”
According to Legarda, the OFWs and Filipino emigrants are sending to the Philippines billions of dollars annually, keeping the Philippines afloat economically amidst the global economic crisis.
“It is the least we can do to show our gratitude for their sacrifices and their continuing concern for our country despite their absence,” declared Loren. “The government must not be seen to be abandoning them by failure to protect their rights as citizens and saviors of our country.”
Earlier, Comelec said it would pilot automated polls in Hong Kong and Singapore. These two places registered the highest turnout of overseas voters’ enlistment at 95,355 and 31,853, respectively.
Delay in printing
The Comelec also reported yesterday that the printing of 50 million official ballots containing the list of candidates in the 2010 elections will start on Jan. 30.
“The printing of official ballots will commence on Jan. 30 as scheduled,” Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal said.
The National Printing Office (NPO) will print the ballots containing the names of all candidates, from president down to local positions.
Sarmiento, however, expressed concern that the printing of ballots may be derailed due to the poll body’s failure to resolve pending disqualification cases.
Before the printing, Sarmiento said the poll body has to resolve all the pending cases.
But other than the official list of candidates, Sarmiento said all other materials necessary for printing ballots are already in place.
The poll body has already approved the candidacy of a total of 10 presidential, eight vice presidential, 62 senatorial and 150 party-list candidates for the May 10 elections.
Source: The Philippine Star