3M voters saw the light

TO THE QUICK - Jerry Tundag (The Freeman) - December 17, 2015 - 9:00am

The Supreme Court has voted unanimously to uphold a Comelec policy disenfranchising close to three million registered voters who have no biometrics data with the poll body. The ruling in effect rejected a petition filed before it seeking to stop the Comelec from implementing the policy. So come May 2016, there will be three million less voters who will troop to the polls, from the roughly 50 million who are eligible to vote.

The furor over the disenfranchisement of three million voters stems from the notion that these three million disenfranchised voters have been unjustly deprived of their right to vote as a result of their lack of biometrics data with the Comelec. Actually, it has never really been determined if that notion is even correct and whether these three million voters really failed to have themselves registered electronically.

Nobody, not even the Comelec, has bothered to find out if there is another reason other than simple failure why these three million failed to submit themselves to the electronic process of registration. Nobody has tried to find out of the three million did not deliberately want things to be that way. Who is to say that these three million did not register electronically on purpose? Who is to say that they did not opt out of the process of their own volition?

In fact, if these three million did not register themselves electronically on purpose, it would not be too difficult to hazard a guess why. These three million probably have had it with Philippine elections. These three million probably decided, to a man, to cry uncle, to hold their hands up, to raise the white flag, to throw in the towel.

All three million Filipinos probably decided it was not worth it to wake up early in the morning, to crowd over lists that may not contain their names, and in the extremely lucky event that they get to find their names, to stand in line for hours in the heat of the sun or under a pouring rain to elect leaders who cannot be expected to make any real difference in their lives.

For many generations now, the leaders Filipinos have elected to high office have succeeded in doing only one thing with great consistency -- betray the public trust. The betrayals do not come sporadic. They come with a regularity. It is this consistency, regardless of who gets elected or from what party, that makes election outcomes in the Philippines predictable.

Three million voters opting out voluntarily from the system cannot be the product of a whimsical decision. Three million people deciding together on a uniform decision could not have been impelled forward by some spur of the moment fancy. They could only have been seized by one, inescapable urge to act in the only way people who have had enough would do -- leave and slam the door behind them.

Three million people is not a number to sneeze at. That is why their absence from the biometrics data bank did not escape notice. It was as if the stakeholders in our election processes were seized roughly by their necks. How come so many people do not have their biometrics all at one time? But noticing the crying discrepancy is one thing, putting a finger on why they are missing is another.

The problem is, not a single soul got it right. No one correctly guessed what prompted the disappearance. And because nobody could truly say why, reasons began to be invented, like lack of time despite all the time given to register. Failing to convince even themselves, some went on to invent causes and some went all the way to the Supreme Court for answers. But even the Supreme Court is clueless. Only three million saw our elections for what they are and had the guts to do what is right.


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