Comelec sets general voters' registration in Zambo Norte town
MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is set to conduct a general voters' registration in Sibuco, Zamboanga del Norte, following discrepancies in the town's voters' list in the run-up to the 2013 midterm elections.
In a text message to Rappler on Monday, October 26, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez confirmed the activity, but said details would be released at the proper time.
The Comelec promulgated 4 resolutions on October 15 in connection with the general voters' registration in the said town. Copies of these resolutions are available on the poll body's website.
Comelec Resolution numbers 10006, 10007, and 10008 deputize the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Department of the Interior and Local Government, including police agencies, and the Department of Education, respectively, for the general registration of voters in Sibuco from November 5 to November 9.
Meanwhile, Resolution 10009 requests the concurrence of President Benigno Aquino III in the said deputations.
Comelec Chairman Andy Bautista and 4 commissioners signed all 4 resolutions. However, there was an added note below Commissioner Christian Robert Lim's signature that reads, "No Part."
Commissioners Al Parreño and Sheriff Abas were on official business.
Meant to clean up the voters' list, a general voters' registration calls for all qualified voters in an area to register and undergo biometrics again. It's the same as what happened in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in 2012.
A Comelec source told Rappler that Sibuco's book of voters had been annulled effective September 29.
The source added that the general registration "initially started" on Monday, but law enforcement agencies and government officials would be deputized in the last 5 days of the registration period. This is to augment local security forces there, in response to an expected influx of voters.
Padded voters' list?
In April 2013, Rappler reported that Roberto Uy, then the Liberal Party (LP) gubernatorial bet in Zamboanga del Norte, had filed a case before the Comelec to get "legal relief" before the polls that year with regards to the voters' list in Sibuco.
Uy argued that the number of registered voters in the town was "just slightly below [its] population." Another LP candidate there said that this indicates "huge and massive number of flying voters." (READ: LP: Voters’ list in Zambo Norte town padded)
The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) also reported in May 2013 about the apparent disparity.
Comparing the figures in Comelec's Project of Precincts for the 2010 elections to the population in each barangay (village) in Sibuco in that same year's census, the PCIJ found that 10 in 28 barangays "have voting populations that were way beyond the headcount of individual villagers."
According to the 2010 census, Sibuco has a population of 31,982. In that year's elections, the town had 25,065 registered voters. For the 2013 midterm polls, 30,985 registered voters were recorded.
Curiously, only 14,332 voters actually voted on election day in 2010 for a 57.2% voter turnout. Meanwhile, only 15,379 voters actually voted in 2013, for a turnout of 49.6 percent.
Uy eventually won as governor of Zamboanga del Norte in the 2013 polls. – Rappler.com
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