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Monsod nixes biometrics registration

Posted on: February 24, 2009

By Anna Valmero
First Posted 23:32:00 02/09/2009

Filed Under: Elections, Eleksyon 2010

MANILA, Philippines—A former chairman of the Commission on Elections said he does not support the poll body’s plan of mandatory biometrics registration to purge the voters’ list of multiple registrants.

“Multiple registration is not the problem in our elections, the problem is multiple voting,” said former poll chief and election lawyer Christian Monsod.

Multiple registration is “a minor problem on a national scale and a non-existent problem in some areas.” Voters with multiple registration comprise only one percent of the total number of registered voters according to the Comelec, said Monsod.

Multiple registration is a specific issue in areas such as the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and must not be translated as a “nationwide problem,” he added. Monsod stressed that the problem in ARMM is rooted in feudalism and thus, can be solved by disarming warlords.

Monsod cited implementing mandatory biometrics registration also requires a “huge” amount of P2 billion, which he said could be used to address important issues in preparation for the 2010 polls. He added it causes “undue burden” for Comelec field staff who have a lot of duties, especially during the time of registration.

“The best way to clean up the voters’ list is through the process of ongoing registration,” said Monsod, in which the voters’ list is “naturally purged” when people register.

To solve cheating caused by flying voters or multiple voting, Monsod said the Comelec must use high-concentrated indelible inks during elections or dip the whole forefinger of the voter so the ink is not erased with over-the-counter solvents like acetone.

The indelible ink is the “simplest, cheapest and more cost-effective way” to prevent multiple voting and if done successfully, prevents voters to cast multiple votes, he said.

Monsod said the Comelec must not extensively implement the biometrics registration at once given the technology remains untested in ensuring credible elections.

Citing Filipino information technology experts, Monsod said Comelec should not look at biometrics as the only solution to multiple voting and multiple registration because there are simple, cost-effective means to address the problems, and “each issue has to be tackled separately.”

During the first reading of House Bill 5715 on January 27, the committee on appropriations included a provision for the Comelec to implement the biometrics system as a means to authenticate the voters’ list. HB 5715 authorizes P11.3 billion supplemental budget for automating the 2010 polls, of which P2 billion is alloted for biometrics registration.

Under Comelec Resolution 8541, an applicant’s biometrics such as digital images of photograph, fingerprints and signatures are captured upon registration by a data capture machine. The data are used to create an authenticated database of registered voters.


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