Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Validation of Voters Need Biometrics by Ernesto Sulidom

Validation of Voters
Need Biometrics

Kapihan at NVC Carmen Hotel on July 18, 2015 discussed two topics namely: “Operation Lista” of Comelec and National Consciousness month of DILG. The guests are Atty. Rommel Benliro and Mr. Crispin Raymund Gerardo - Comelec Officers (CO) and Mr. John Ace  Azarcon, Provincial Director, DILG.

Mr. Gerardo explained that Operation Lista is voters’ biometrics validation and registration waged by the Commision on Elections to insure voting rights in May 9, 2016 elections. The deadline is October 31, 2015. He urged all concerned to go to Municipal Comelec Offices at the earliest possible time so as not to create serious backlog at the eleventh hour.

Atty. Benliro underscored the slogan “No Bio, No Boto”. This Comelec resolution is based on RA 10367 or Biometrics Law. Biometrics is defined as digital capture of picture of voter, his signature and thumbmark. Those who fail to meet the deadline will have their voting right deactivated.

Comelec is keen on holding credible, orderly and peaceful elections. It has started the bidding process to refurbish and acquire Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOs) machines preparatory to full automation in next years polls.

Under the biometrics technology, one touch of the key button shows digital image of the prospective voter and another push indicate whether he has voted elsewhere or not. This is a significant step in thwarting shenanigans and misdeeds in the electoral process. At least we have learned dark lessons of the past, concluded Atty. Benliro.

According to Mr. Azarcon the theme of this month’s celebration is “Tamang Paghahanda, Tamang Kaalaman. DILG is involved in Disaster Risk Reduction Management since LGUs are in the forefront of disaster relief, rehabilitation and recovery.

Before super typhoon Yolanda, we had no program or strategies in place to cope with calamities, Mr. Azarcon admitted. Presently, we are better prepared such as closed coordination among LGUs, training program especially involving youth and coded communication based on Pag-asa weather forecast. Alpha, Brabo, Charlie coded messages bear standard response as to preparedness and action to be relayed to residents at risk of impending disaster.

Mr. Azarcon averred that a Youth Jamboree on Capacity Development Intervention will be held at Camp Jizmundo, Banga on July 25-26, 2015. Participants shall come from all 17 towns of Aklan.

Atty. Allen S. Quimpo has raised the issue of casuals in the payroll of LGUs who are assigned as Clerks of Comelec officials. Based on previous experience, casuals could easily be “programmed” to favor certain voters allied to the Mayor’s political party. This is a contentious issue and has legitimate basis, Hence, Atty. Quimpo asked Comelec to have casuals under their payroll. The only problem: Comelec has no budget reserved for casuals.

There have been thousands of flying voters listed in two previous automated elections and yet Comelec chose to ignore the need of prosecuting suspects. If we are committed to uphold the sanctity of the ballot and credibility of elections, then it is high time to prosecute wayward individuals.

DILG’s mission/goal is on transparency, efficiency and accountability of local governance. Sec. Mar Roxas was directed by Pres. P-noy to handle rehabilitation and recovery of Yolanda victims but this is on temporary basis. Assignment is never permanent. Hence, to terminate rehabilitation for Yolanda and turn this over to Presidential Assistance on Rehabilitation and Recovery. So many chefs spoil the broth is an apt reminder.

Even with full automation, it seems eight years away where voters could get their laminated ID’s is very long. They are important to people who need to present two valid ID’s for quick identification. This time CO’s promises to issues the ID’s within this year.

The right of suffrage is one basis in any democratic institutions. Let every qualified voter register and be validated before the October 31 deadline set by Comelec. Let your vote be counted. /MP

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