100,000 Novo Ecijanos may not be able to vote in 2016, says Comelec

By Jason de Asis

CABANATUAN CITY, Nueva Ecija, Oct. 14 (PNA) — Some 100,000 registered voters in this province may not be able to vote in the 2016 synchronized local and national elections due to their failure to update their voters’ records using the biometrics system.

Lawyer Panfilo Doctor Jr., provincial election supervisor, said that based on the latest records from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) provincial office, a total of 112,837 registered voters have not submitted themselves for biometrics, hence, are automatically disqualified to vote in 2016 elections.

“This figure represents roughly 7.68 percent of the total number of registered voters in the province of 1,313,811,” he said.

The “No Bio, No Boto” campaign is a provision of Republic Act 10637 signed by President Aquino on February 13, 2013.

The system, however, was not applied in the May 2013 elections for lack of an intensive information dissemination campaign.

Two more hearings are set on October 19 and November 16 so that voters could still avail of the system.

Doctor said that they have intensively informed the voters of the poll body’s policy.

When asked if this would result in massive disenfranchisement of voters, he replied, that “I would not consider it disenfranchisement because we have advised them about it.”

Cabanatuan City has 33,165 or 15 percent of voters without biometrics from the total 219,272.

Other places in Nueva Ecija that still have large number of registered voters without or have incomplete biometrics are San Jose City (14,679), Talavera (9,388), Guimba (5,206) and Gapan City (3,660), Aliaga (3,404) and Palayan City (3,356).

However, the provincial total of 112,837 voters without biometrics is still considered a remarkable improvement from the 219,272 which have no biometrics in September last year.

Doctor said they have utilized the election officers in the 27 municipalities and five cities of the province to conduct the validation which started in July 2013 consistent with continuing registration specified under Resolution 9853 to prevent the voters’ records from being deactivated for lack of biometrics.

Biometrics refer to the quantitative analysis that provides a positive identification of an individual such as voice, photograph, fingerprint, signature and other identifiable means.

RA 10367 mandates voters to undergo “validation” which it defines as the process of taking the biometrics of registered voters whose biometrics have not yet been captured.

Failure of old voters to update their records through the biometric system would mean they could not exercise their right to vote in 2016.

The system would not affect new voters since they will automatically undergo the biometrics process.

Doctor said their personnel have been going to the various barangays in the province to encourage registered voters to update their records.

”But some of the voters did not respond or may have transferred to other places,” he said.

Comelec records also showed that all the 27 towns and five cities have biometric deficiencies in the voters’ records.

Aside from cities of Cabanatuan, Gapan, Palayan and San Jose, these are the Science City of Munoz, Bongabon, Cabiao, Carranglan, Cuyapo, Gabaldon, Gen. Natividad, Gen. Tinio, Jaen, Laur, Licab, Llanera, Lupao, Nampicuan, Pantabangan, Penaranda, Quezon, Rizal, San Antonio, San Isidro, San Leonardo, Sta. Rosa, Sto. Domingo, Talugtug and Zaragoza. (PNA)