Comelec: We can’t do anything more about dead voters
By Jess Diaz
The Philippine Star
MANILA, Philippines – Officials of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said yesterday they can no longer purge the names of dead people and double registrants from the voters’ list.
“The period for excluding illegal registrants has already lapsed,” Commissioner Rene Sarmiento told a joint hearing of the House committee on suffrage and electoral reform and the committee on oversight.
“One remedy is for interested parties to file charges for violating the election law against these registrants,” Sarmiento said.
But Chairman Jose Melo, along with Sarmiento and commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal, assured the public that there are enough safeguards to prevent the names of the dead voters from being used for fraud or people with double registration from voting twice.
“There is the indelible ink to be poured on the voter’s finger when he casts his ballot. That should prevent him from voting again,” Melo said.
Larrazabal said another safeguard is that watchers of candidates and political parties can challenge a voter if they believe he is an illegal registrant.
Once a voter is challenged, the Board of Election Inspectors should verify from their records whether the person is a legal registrant and if he is not, should not allow him to vote, he said.
“We need the cooperation of all sectors in making this election clean. What is required here is vigilance,” he said.
The Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting has discovered the existence of 40,000 dead voters and people with double registration in Davao City and Davao del Sur.
Among those with double registration are Pastor Apollo Quiboloy and Sebastian Duterte, reportedly a son of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
Earlier, names of dead voters and illegal registrants were discovered in the voters’ lists in Taguig City.
Makati Rep. Teodoro Locsin Jr., who chairs the committee on suffrage and electoral reform, complained to Melo yesterday about his discovery of scores of names in the voters’ registries in Barangay Carmona in his district who he said are not residents of the community.
“They registered there because I guess they were paid to do that,” he said.
Locsin expressed resignation that the Comelec could no longer purge the voters’ list.
“Can’t do anything about that. I guess we’ll just have to challenge them if they show up,” he said.
“And if they are able to vote, I hope they vote for my wife,” he added in jest. His wife Louie is seeking to replace him.
Melo and his colleagues also assured lawmakers that they have prepared for all possible contingencies on May 10.
They said the precinct optical count system (PCOS) machines will be delivered to the 80,000 clustered precincts throughout the country on May 7, or three days before the elections, as required by law.
There are 5,800 spare PCOS machines in case some of the machines don’t work.
Copies of electronically generated election results will be given to representatives of candidates, political parties and the media.
Responding to questions raised by Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, Comelec officials said they would send to Congress electronic copies of provincial and city results, which the legislature would use as basis for canvassing the votes for presidential and vice presidential candidates.
They would also send “hard” copies of provincial and city certificates of canvass, they said.
The Senate and the House of Representatives will resume their session on May 31 primarily to count the votes for presidential and vice presidential candidates and to proclaim the winners.
On the other hand, the Comelec will canvass the senatorial, congressional and local election results and proclaim the winners.
Before yesterday’s hearing ended, Comelec officials demonstrated to lawmakers how the PCOS machine works and how results would be transmitted to tabulation centers.
Not a double registrant
Quiboloy, leader of the six-million strong Kingdom of Jesus Christ The Name Above Every Name, has clarified that he is not a double registrant contrary to an earlier published report.
In a statement, Quiboloy maintained that he is a registered voter in Barangay Tamayong, Calinaw, Davao City since 1997 and has been voting there ever since. In 2003, pursuant to a Comelec requirement, he applied for validation of his voter registration in Barangay Buhangin, Davao City, where his church is located. He said that under Comelec rules, a voter may apply for validation anywhere and not necessarily in the precinct where he or she is registered.
Quiboloy said his name should have not come up in the list of double registrants because he was merely following procedures when he validated his voter information in a different barangay.
“Pastor Quiboloy has never, at anytime, registered in Buhangin, Davao city nor has he voted there. Our documents show that Pastor Quiboloy has been voting only in Tamayong, Davao City,” the statement read.
One of President Arroyo’s key spiritual advisers, Quiboloy is often sought by local and national candidates to seek his advise and blessing.