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COMELEC: 12,452 prisoners register for 2010 polls

Posted on: September 14, 2009

COMELEC:
12,452 prisoners register for 2010 polls

By Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 17:47:00 09/11/2009

Filed Under: Prison, Eleksyon 2010, Inquirer Politics

MANILA, Philippines—A total of 12,452 inmates nationwide have registered for the 2010 general elections, the Commission on Elections announced Friday.

“Detainees who are not convicted of any crime are still presumed innocent and retain their right of suffrage so they can vote in the elections,” said Rene Sarmiento, Comelec commissioner and chairman of inter-agency committee for detainee voting.

Although the detainees registration only started in August, the Comelec, together with the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, has enlisted about 30 percent of the close to 43,000 inmates across the county who are eligible vote, Sarmiento said.

“The rate of our detainee registration at over 12,400 is very encouraging, considering this is the first time and the figures only account for the period between August to September 7. At this rate, we are optimistic to enlist at least half of the 42,000 eligible registrants by October 31,” Sarmiento told INQUIRER.net.

Regions with high turn out of detainee registrants include Metro Manila at 4,022; Calabarzon, 3,060; Central Visayas, 1,186; and Western Visayas, 1,141.

Registration results in other regions are as follows: Ilocos Region, 86; Cagayan Valley, 178; Central Luzon, 839; Mimaropa, 521; Bicol Region, 61; Eastern Visayas, 17; Northern Mindanao, 505; Davao Region, 78; Soccsksargen, 7; Caraga, 452; Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, 98; and Cordillera Administrative Region, 201.

“By the numbers, detainee votes are crucial to make a local candidate win because every single vote counts in local polls wherein a candidate usually wins by a slim margin of 20 or 50 votes,” he said. “We hope aspiring candidates would campaign among detainees, listen to their issues and solve them.”

Based on BJMP statistics, about 42,818 out of the total 53,237 prisoners nationwide are eligible to vote in 2010, said BJMP chief and General Rodendo Dial.

Of this number, 22,572 inmates have yet to register while 1,598 have been delisted for failure to vote in the last two elections, said Dial.

A total of 11,499 inmates are registered but cannot vote in 2010 for reasons such as being detained in a facility outside of the district where they resided prior to incarceration and registration as voters, said Dial.

In the next two weeks, Sarmiento said the inter-agency committee for detainee voting, composed of the Comelec, BJMP, Commission on Human Rights and Department of Interior and Local Government will layout plans and guidelines for detainee voters’ education.

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