Lawmakers fear failure of elections due to 'zombie' voters

March 7, 2010 1:24 am 

By Lilybeth G. Ison

MANILA, March 6 — Members of the House of Representatives on Saturday urged Speaker Prospero Nograles to take the lead in demanding for the immediate de-listing by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) of all double, multiple and dead registrants from the final list of voters instead of merely putting their names in a watchlist.

Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said the Comelec's decision to simply put a watchlist to check all the multiple and zombie registrants is "unreliable and highly questionable, which may trigger a failure of elections in 2010."

He noted that Congress’ duty to proclaim the winners in the presidential and national polls is being jeopardized because there would be a big debate on the duplicate registrants.

Rodriguez said it will be very difficult for Congress to make a decision once the issue on these multiple registrants is raised during canvassing.

"Three to five million multiple registrants is no joke especially with the perceived close fight among our top presidential candidates. Baka magkaroon tayo ng failure of elections kapag binalewala ito ng Comelec (We might have failure of election if the Comelec won't act on it)," he said.

"There is no such thing as watchlist in an election and I don't understand why the Comelec is insisting on this. Kalokohan yan (That's nonsense)," he said.

Rodriguez added the poll body cannot claim it does not have the resources to de-list the spurious voters since it has been allotted enough funds for the elections.

"Congress allotted a P10.3-billion for the 2010 national elections, P7.2 billion of which went to poll automation. We still have P3.1 billion left which Comelec can use in cleaning the voters’ list," he said.

Cavite Rep. Crispin Remulla, on the other hand, expressed alarm over reports that the evidence of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) in relation to double registration and zombie registration were taken by thieves last Thursday.

Remulla said the immediate purging of the Comelec list will ensure the holding of a clean and honest elections on May 10.

"With only a few months left before the elections, the Comelec should act with dispatch to de-list all spurious voters from the final voters’ list," he said.

Remulla said the poll body should take seriously the PPCRV revelation that there are 40,000 flying voters in Davao City and Davao del Sur, and that this could only be the tip of the iceberg.

"The Comelec should act decisively by removing these flying voters and other spurious registrants from other areas in the country. If the PPCRV is able to exercise vigilance on spurious voters, why can’t the Comelec start acting now by cleaning the voters’ list?” he said.

"Why is it difficult for the Comelec to simply delete all these multiple and dead registrants? It's easier to do this than just putting up a watchlist," he added.

Remulla said the Speaker, in behalf of all House members, should relay the lawmakers’ concerns and demand from the Comelec to de-list double, multiple and dead registrants from its list.

"The Speaker is in the best position to do this because of the possibility of 'dagdag-bawas' taking place in Davao City after the discovery by the PPCRV of spurious registrants in his home city," he said.

Nograles is running for the mayoralty post in Davao City in this year's election.

PPCRV counsel Howard Calleja earlier said that if the 40,000 multiple registrations will be multiplied to the country’s 80 provinces, this would result in having three to four million flying voters.

For his part, Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III said the Speaker, as the top leader of the House, should ask the Comelec to immediately cleanse the voters’ list of zombie voters.

"The Speaker has the authority to air our concerns especially on this issue. Everyone wants an assurance from the Comelec that the coming elections will be clean and honest, and there’s no better way for the Comelec to prove its will and commitment than to purge these spurious voters from the final registrants’ list," he said.

Albano said the poll body has the exclusive and absolute power and authority to de-list all double, multiple and dead registrants from the voters’ list.

He said putting the spurious voters under a Comelec watchlist "will not be an effective deterrent against poll cheating."

"Unless we de-list them, these spurious voters cannot have other means to participate in the voting. Only the Comelec can do the de-listing," he said.

"The 3.2 million spurious registrants can make or break the elections because as we can see the top poll rivals are too close in their fight. The Speaker should really ask the Comelec to de-list these 3.2 million spurious registrants," he added. (PNA)

scs/LGI

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