Bill amending voter's registration act needed
The need for a reliable voters list, side by side with poll automation, to achieve the people's dream of clean, honest and credible elections in May 2010 was underscored by Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon today.
Gordon, author of Republic Act (RA) 9369 or the Amended Automated Elections System Law, called on the Senate to pass a measure aimed at addressing irregularities in the voters' list by computerizing the registration process.
"RA 9369 seeks to address the problem of wholesale cheating that has eroded the credibility of past elections in the country. But the 2008 ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) elections showed that irregularities in the voting process have remained even with the use of automated machines," he said.
"The presence of flying or ghost voters, or underage or other ineligible voters, has remained prevalent because of insufficient safeguards to reliably identify voters. Hence, the need for a more effective voters' registration process," he added.
In February of this year, Gordon filed Senate Bill No. 3065, which seeks to amend RA 8189 or the Voter's Registration Act of 1996, by requiring new registrants or voters previously registered under the old application procedure to submit their biometric information.
The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) was set to computerize the registration process in 2004 by capturing the biometric information of all voters under the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) and enable it to purge the voters' list of double or multiple registrants.
However, several years after the program was begun, the biometric information of only a small portion of all registered voters nationwide has been taken, the AFIS not having been fully implemented due allegedly to lack of budget.
Last May 5, the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading a bill pushing mandatory biometrics registration for the 2010 national elections. But Gordon's proposed bill in the Senate has yet to be debated on the floor.
Gordon pointed out that just as the Senate saw the need for poll automation to rid the country of cheating-marred elections, it should also act with dispatch on the biometrics registration bill since it will further ensure honest and credible elections.
"The automation of the 2010 elections will be a game-changer in Philippine politics. But by passing the measure calling for mandatory biometrics registration, we will further ensure that our elections next year will no longer be marred by cheating," Gordon said.