Celso seeks Comelec help on Zambo voters’ biometrics woes (112,444 local voters don’t have,or having incomplete biometrics ) PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 21 September 2015 13:49

by Jubels Santos

Zamboanga City District 1 Representative Celso Lobregat told the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) on its budget hearing last September 16, 2015 that in Zamboanga City , as of September 9, 2015, there are 412,000 registered voters – and out of this, 112,444 have incomplete or do not have biometrics data. As per COMELEC policy, if voters do not have biometrics data, they will not be allowed to vote.

Lobregat said given the situation in Zamboanga City and there are only 27 days left for the validation/registration (deadline on October 31) and COMELEC in Zamboanga City can only accommodate 300-400 a day, it is physically impossible to accommodate the 112,444 voters. “I don’t know if this situation is nationwide or peculiar only to Zamboanga City , but if this is also the case nationwide, you will have millions of disenfranchised voters,” Lobregat reacted.

COMELEC Chairman Andres Bautista replied that when they reported to the Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms, they presented the data in respect of the validation of biometrics. It started 9.6 Million in May 2014 and as of August 30, 2015, 3.1 Million nationwide. COMELEC also partnered with malls all over the country and placed satellite offices in these malls.

Lobregat also suggested to COMELEC that the number of computers be increased in Zamboanga City and immediately be deployed not only in the COMELEC office in Zamboanga City but also in different barangays, especially in barangays with big number of voters with no or incomplete biometrics.

COMELEC Commissioner Christian Robert Lim also reported that as of August 30, 2015 in Region IX, those who do not have biometrics are 89,501.

In relation to the biometrics issue being raised, COMELEC Chairman Bautista informed the body that they have to distinguish those with no biometrics and those with incomplete data. There are three (3) components in the biometrics: photo, signature and the fingerprint. COMELEC is still studying the possibility of allowing the voter to vote provided one of these components is present.

Lobregat then reacted and said that the COMELEC still have to come up with a resolution to that effect, that they will allow persons with incomplete biometrics to still vote. He also commented that if photograph or signature is missing, voters can present an ID or sign their signature. But if they will allow persons with incomplete biometrics, with fingerprint missing, this will defeat the purpose of the biometrics.

Lobregat also stressed that fingerprint is designed so that a person can only vote once and to prevent the cases of “flying-voters.” “Biometrics should achieve the purpose it was intended to. Fingerprint is the key. If voter with no fingerprint in the biometrics is allowed to vote, it does not achieve the purpose of biometrics,” Lobregat said.

As per COMELEC, all biometrics obtained undergo “Automated Fingerprint Identification System” (AFIS). In 2013, COMELEC also passed a resolution that if a voter has registered twice, COMELEC will delete the latest registration and maintain as valid the previous registration so that voter cannot vote more than once. COMELEC also said since the biometrics is in the system, if one votes in one precinct, he/she cannot vote in any precinct all over the country. COMELEC also told Lobregat that they will look into the matters raised.

COMELEC presented its FY 2016 proposed budget amounting to PhP15.65 Billion before the Committee on Appropriations last September 16, 2015. — Jubels Santos