Voter verification may slow down poll process — Comelec

Sheila Crisostomo - The Philippine Star
Voter verification may slow down poll process â Comelec
Classes at Toro Hills Elementary School in Quezon City were suspended yesterday in preparation for the mock polls to be conducted by the Commission on Elections today.
Michael Varcas

 MANILA, Philippines — While the voter registration verification system (VRVS) may enhance the automated polls, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) admitted yesterday that it could delay the voting process in the May 13 midterm elections. 

In an interview, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said introducing the VRVS could lead to an additional five minutes in the time needed for a voter to complete the voting process. 

“It will have a slight impact in terms of having additional time before one can be given a ballot… We expect… the use of VRVS not (to) exceed five minutes,” he noted.

The Comelec is pilot testing some 35,000 units of VRVS at all polling precincts in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Manila and Quezon City today.

In Pangasinan, Cavite, Cebu, Negros Occidental, Zamboanga del Sur and Davao del Sur, the units will be tested in selected polling precincts. 

In future elections, Jimenez said the VRVS will speed up the voting process because it will make the validation of voters’ identity much easier. 

“When we go into the full implementation in the future, that is the only process that will be used. At that point, it will be even quicker since we have gone digital,” he added.

The VRVS is designed to automate the system of verifying voter registration at the polling precinct.

In previous elections, the Comelec had been checking the identity of voters using the printed copies of Election Day Computerized Voters List.  

Rivals under close watch

Meanwhile, the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) is keeping its eye on “intense rivalries” in Metro Manila to avoid untoward incidents related to the upcoming polls.

NCRPO chief Director Guillermo Eleazar said there were some instances of violence between officials prior to the election period. 

“We are focused on that… With (the coordination) we are having right now, we can address possible… intense situations,” he said. 

The Joint Task Force-National Capital Region composed of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines met with the Comelec yesterday to plan the security preparations for the coming elections. 

Eleazar said there are no apparent or confirmed threats for the midterm polls.

He said no terrorist groups are planning to stage attacks in Metro Manila based on the NCRPO’s monitoring in the field.

“But just the same, we are closely coordinating with the intelligence community and other government agencies for us to make sure that the midterm elections would be peaceful and orderly,” Eleazar said.

Earlier, Eleazar said there are no hot spots in Metro Manila and no politicians are maintaining private armies.

The NCRPO has also put up checkpoints in the metropolis to prevent the sneaking in of loose firearms, explosives and other arms cache, resulting in the killing of two persons during police operations, arrest of 12 and confiscation of 12 firearms, 52 deadly weapons and 229 ammunition from Jan. 13 to 18.

Eleazar said the PNP will intensify its security operations in places of convergence such as train stations, airports, seaports, malls, shopping complexes and transport terminals where people tend to congregate.

At the same time, he also appealed to the public to cooperate with the police in its checkpoint and other security operations.

The campaign period for local positions will be from March 29 to May 11 and Feb. 12 to May 11 for national positions, including senators and party-list members.

Keep it clean

Civil society groups also gathered yesterday to call for a “clean and green” election season, urging candidates to minimize waste and pledge support for reforms for the environment, climate and development.

“We believe that the candidates’ commitment to advance policies promoting the environment, sustainable development and people’s welfare is reflected in the kind of campaign candidates are running,” Paeng Lopez of Health Care Without Harm, head of the Green Thumb Coalition (GTC) electoral campaign, said. – With Romina Cabrera, Non Alquitran, Rhodina Villanueva

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