By Gerry Baldo
Original Story: http://www.tribune.net.ph/headlines/20100307hed1.html
Zombie voters, or double registrants, estimated at three to five million people may be the least of the problems in the May 10 elections if computations of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) on the electoral process on the voting day itself prove true as the estimate only puts around 8.3 million of the 50 million registered voters would be able to cast their votes.
PMP senatorial candidate and former Negros Occidental Rep. Apolinario “Jun” Lozada said it would take 4.8 days of voting to be able to accommodate all the registered voters for the May 10 polls given an average of seven minutes per voter needed to complete the process from thumb printing, shading of the ballot, and feeding the ballot into the counting machines.
He said the wholesale disenfranchisement of voters is likely after the decision of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to cluster five precincts into one counting machine.
“We are really worried. This would be worse than massive cheating,” Lozada told reporters covering the PMP campaign sortie.
Lozada said that clustering five precincts into one counting machine would mean 1,000 voters for each Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machine.
“That would take 7,000 minutes or around 4.8 days for 1,000 voters to vote,” he said.
Dividing 7,000 minutes would equal 4.8 days as he pointed out that squeezing 352,000 precincts into 82,000 counting machines was to blame for the imminent mess.
He said within the 12-hour voting period on May 10 only 102 voters would be able to vote if each voter would be given seven minutes each to cast his ballot. Voting will start at 6 a.m. and end at 6 p.m.
If the Comelec would want all the voters to vote, each voter should be allowed only one minute and 12 seconds to cast their ballots and that would be impossible to happen, he added.
Given the time frame, he said that only 102 voters per cluster of 1,000 voters would be able to vote if the voters would be given seven minutes each to vote.
“We always raise this likely problem during out meetings. We are really alarmed because of the huge dinenfranchisement if the clustering is not changed,” he said.
Other PMP senatorial candidates also expressed the same misgivings about the issue. PMP senatorial candidates Francisco “Kit” Tatad and Agusan del Sur Rep. Rodolfo “Ompong” Plaza, the issue could lead to a failure of elections.
Tatad and Plaza said that the poll body should do something about the issue.
On the zombie registrants, House members called on Speaker Prospero Nograles to take the lead in demanding today the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to immediately de-list all double, multiple and dead registrants from the final list of voters instead of merely putting their names in a watchlist.
The Comelec’s decision to simply put in a watchlist all multiple and zombie registrants is unreliable and highly questionable which may trigger a failure of elections in 2010, Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said.
He added Congress’ duty to proclaim the winners in the presidential and national presidential polls is being jeopardized because there would be a big debate on the duplicate registrants.
“It will be very difficult for Congress to make a decision once the issue on these multiple registrants is raised during canvassing. Three to 5 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,” Rodriguez 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,” he said.
Rodriguez added the Comelec 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, ” Rodriguez said.
Cavite Rep. Crispin Remulla on the other hand expressed 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.”
Remulla said the Comelec 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?”
“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,” Remulla said.
Remulla said Nograles in behalf of all House members should relay the lawmakers’ concerns and demand the Comelec to de-list double, multiple and dead registrants from the agency’s 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, among them the sister, son and relatives of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte,” said Remulla.
Earlier, the Speaker questioned that while the Comelec seemed to have overlooked the double registration of more 9,000 residents in Davao City, among them the sister of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, Jocelyn who is running for Congress, his son Sebastian and six other relatives, the names of some 13,000 registered voters suddenly disappeared.
Howard Calleja, PPCRV counsel 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.
Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III at the same time 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.”
Albano said the Comelec 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 delist 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. Charlie V. Manalo
Original Story: http://www.tribune.net.ph/headlines/20100307hed1.html