Poll chief lauds supplemental budget OK Biometrics for voters’ registration pushed
Posted February 25, 2009on:
MANILA, Philippines — Commission on Elections chairman Jose Melo is elated that the Commission on Elections’ P11 billion supplemental budget for the automation of 2010 elections has been approved at the House of Representatives.
The committee on appropriations, headed by Makati Representative Teodoro Locsin Jr., approved Tuesday House Bill 5715, which included a provision for the poll body to implement the biometrics system as a means to authenticate the voters’ list.
The Comelec on its website, defines biometrics as the capture of digital images of a person’s photograph, fingerprints, and signature using the poll body’s Data Capture Machine (DCM).
“This is like hitting two birds with one stone,” said Comelec chairman Jose Melo, referring to the approval of HB 5715 and the amended provision contained in the measure.
The committee on appropriations agreed to amend House Bill 5715 to address the concern raised by Cagayan de Oro Representative Rufus Rodriguez for the need by Comelec to update the voters’ list through biometrics.
Rodriguez, citing the Comelec, said 50 percent of the total registered voters have no biometrics information with the poll body.
Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya said the Comelec has P2.2 billion — P800,000 in savings from 2008 and P1.4 billion from the more than P5 billion budget in 2009 — which the poll body could use to implement the biometrics system.
“With the approval of the supplemental budget here at the Congress, the automation project for 2010 looks promising,” said Melo.
During the presentation of the automation project for the 2010 local and national elections at the House, Comelec director Jose Tolentino said they were planning to set up a total of 80,000 units of direct precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines nationwide.
The PCOS, according to the Comelec, involves technology where specially made paper ballots that voters will use during the elections will pass through and be counted by “optical ballot scanners.”
Melo said they proposed a November 2009 deadline for the registration of voters so that the Comelec could hold early polls in areas such as the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao.