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Opinion

EDITORIAL - Avoid disenfranchisement

The Philippine Star

Approximately 4.7 million voters may be disenfranchised in the 2016 general elections for failure to have their biometrics taken, according to the Commission on Elections.

The 4.7 million is down from 9.3 million in May last year, when voter registration for the next elections started. That’s still a lot of voters – more than enough to decide the outcome of national races. The figure is larger than the voting population of many cities in this country.

Comelec officials are urging voters not to wait for the last minute to have their biometric data taken. Under Republic Act 10367 or the Mandatory Biometrics Registration Act of 2013, voters have until this October to validate their registration.

The Comelec has aired the reminder many times, but voters are either uninterested or confused. It’s not the first time, after all, that the Comelec is collecting biometric data from voters. The first time, during the Arroyo administration, the biometric information was supposed to be stored in new voter’s identification cards, which would replace the slips of paper that had passed for a voter’s ID card. To this day, many voters still do not have the ID cards.

Voters are unsure if they need to have their biometrics taken again, and are irked that they might have to repeat the process. Did taxpayers waste funds on biometric equipment and ghost voter’s ID cards? These are just like the vehicle registration stickers and license plates that motorists paid for and were not delivered in the time of the tuwid na daan or straight path.

The biometric system is meant to clean up voters’ lists that are easily tampered with and have been riddled for a long time with ghost voters. People are ready to cooperate in implementing any system that will contribute to the integrity of the vote. Millions waited in line to have their biometrics taken the first time. If public response is slower this time, the Comelec has only itself to blame. It should make up for it with a more vigorous information campaign about the new system and reassure voters that this time, the effort won’t go to waste.

 

 

 

BIOMETRIC

BIOMETRICS

COMELEC

MANDATORY BIOMETRICS REGISTRATION ACT

REGISTRATION

TAKEN

TIME

UNDER REPUBLIC ACT

VOTER

VOTERS

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