THE Commission on Elections said on Thursday the Supreme Court’s decision to stop the poll body’s “no bio, no boto” policy has brought back fears of vote buying and cheating as some 2.5-million voters may be tapped as flying voters who could alter the election results.
Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said such fears and insecurity arose after voters and candidates noted that the difference or margins between the senatorial candidates who ranked 12th and 13th was only 200,000 votes.
“The 2.5-million voters to be added to the 54-million registered voters that adhered to the mandatory biometrics would definitely make a difference in the possibility of altering the results of the elections for senators,” Jimenez said.
“The margin of less than 200,000 in 2013 can now rake in as many votes from the 2.5 million added into the list.”
“Under the mandatory biometrics, the voters’ list has been purged such that a voter will have a single fingerprint and biometrics ensures that there is only one record for one voter and one record means one vote,” Jimenez explained.
“Unlike when these 2.5-million voters that did not submit to biometrics can vote in so many precincts. They can be tapped as flying voters that could very well be beneficial to the cheating candidates,” he said, noting that 2.5-million added voters will bring the total registered voters to 56.5 million.
But senatorial candidate Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and 1BAP Rep. Silvestre Bello III welcomed the SC ruling, saying it was more important not to disenfranchise 2.5-million voters.
While acknowledging the importance of biometric system in safeguarding the election, Romualdez said the policy should not be “burdensome” to the people, especially those from far-flung areas who have to undergo extraordinary measures just to have their biometrics recorded.
“We understand the need for biometric system, but any policy should show malasakit [compassion] and not be burdensome to the people,” Romualdez said.
“Why give undue burden and suffering? Not all places are best situated to access the facilities for biometrics process. In inaccessible areas, it becomes a punitive measure to those who live in far-flung areas,” said Romualdez, a lawyer and president of the Philippine Constitution Association.
“I hope the SC will decide what is best for the people because this will affect the Comelec preparations. We should not make it burdensome to voters. The policy is sound, but not properly supported with facilities,” Romualdez said.
In the same news forum, Bello, a former justice secretary, welcomed the SC ruling, stressing there are barangays in the country especially in Davao where people had to ride a horse for a few days before reaching the area for biometrics registration.
“The SC ruling was good,” Bello said. “I would have questioned the Comelec policy because this will disenfranchise many voters. Under the Constitution, you can vote so long as you’re of legal age. Suddenly they are adding requirements not provided in the Constitution,” Bello said.
Romualdez, head of the House Independent Bloc, also underscored that the process should not “take away the right to vote from so many people.”