Comelec-Sorsogon holds 11th hour effort to convince voters to validate registration

SORSOGON CITY, Sept. 27 (PNA) — The Sorsogon provincial office here of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Sunday staged a “last ditch” activity to convince the local electorate to submit themselves to a biometric capture to validate their registration and be able them to vote in the 2016 elections.

Dubbed “Fun Walk and Run: Huling Hirit sa Pag-Validate”, the activity participated in by over a hundred physical fitness buffs, according to assistant election supervisor Renie Daymon, was in line with the poll body’s information drive called “No Biometric, No Vote” which carries a stern message that voters will never be allowed to vote without validating their registration records.

The validation refers to the capturing through an electronic machine of each voter’s biometrics such as photograph, fingerprints and signature for them to be recognized as a duly registered voter and allowed to vote in the forthcoming national and local elections pursuant to Republic Act (RA) 10367.

Signed by President Benigno Aquino on Feb. 15, 2013 to become the Mandatory Biometrics Registration Law, RA 10367 states that voters who do not have biometrics will not be able to vote in the May 9, 2016 local and national polls.

Hence, Daymon said, it has become the policy of the commission as declared under Comelec Resolution No. 9853 to establish a clean, complete, permanent and updated list of voters through the mandatory taking of photograph, fingerprints and signature in the registration process.

At present, the Comelec is holding a registration of new voters and validation of old ones, which was started in May 2014 and to end on Oct. 31.

For the purpose of validation, all previously registered voters without biometrics are required to go to the Local Election Registrar’s Office and have themselves subjected to biometrics capture using the Voter Registration Machine (VRM).

The VRM is simply a desktop computer, with a digital camera, fingerprint scanner and signature pad attached to it and biometrics capture becomes possible with the use of this high-tech equipment.

Daymon stressed that the absence of biometrics in the voter’s registration record will cause Comelec to deactivate the concerned registration records “and when that happens, the concerned voter shall not be allowed to vote in the May 2016 elections”.

In the case of Sorsogon, he said, the province has a total of 409,426 registered voters as of last Aug. 31 and 37,618 of them remained without biometrics data; 135 incomplete; and 371,673 complete.

From this with complete data figure, Daymon said, 56,213 are previously registered voters who have come to their respective Comelec registrar’s offices for validation since the process was started.

Apart from the massive information drive, the Comelec municipal and city offices have also gone into barangays for their satellite registration and validation program that significantly contributed to the achievement of this number, he recalled.

This turnout for the validation is quite good but not yet satisfactory since as much as possible, Daymon said, the Comelec wants a 100-percent result so that all registered voters in the province will be able to cast their votes in the next elections.

“We hope that this fun run awakens the awareness of those who have not complied and finally drive them into presenting themselves to the Comelec field offices where they are registered for the biometric capture which is a very easy process that takes only at least five minutes,” Daymon said.

All they have to do is introduce themselves to the personnel manning the VRM sit in front of the camera for his or her picture to be taken, have his or her fingerprints captured by the scanner and write his or her signature in the signature pad, that’s all, and everything is done, he explained.

Daymon said the Comelec safeguards the integrity and secrecy of the biometric voter registry as he noted that while biometric systems are increasingly being deployed in the developing world with the aim to ensure a fair and efficient electoral process, it is important that countries, such as the Philippines, ensure that such data is properly regulated and safeguarded.

The “Fun Walk and Run: Huling Hirit sa Pag-Validate” event was started with a zumba exercises at the Capitol ground here at 5 a.m Sunday followed by a run/walk event that covered a 3.2-kilometer distance around the city proper.

Participants were local government workers, members of civic organizations, students and individuals who believe that the right to vote is an inherent right and one of the democratic means to choose capable and worthy leaders in our government, Daymon said.

The future of the government, he stressed, rests largely upon the active participation of the public in the cherished democratic right of suffrage and upon the kind of people they elect to public office.

Accordingly, each qualified and registered voter should vote, regardless of his personal dissatisfaction towards the government, so that those elected to public office derive legitimacy and authority from those who are governed, Daymon added.(PNA)