Press Release
December 4, 2007

No excuses for Comelec not to cleanse voters' list -- Loren

Senator Loren Legarda said yesterday that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has over two years before the next election to cleanse the voters' list of an estimated two million double registrations.

"There should be no excuses why the voters' list can't be purged of double registrations," said Loren, in reaction to a statement by a Comelec official that the poll body is having difficulty correcting the double listings.

Loren stressed that ensuring the integrity of the voters' list is the first step towards ensuring the credibility of elections.

"All other measures to foil attempts at poll fraud will be for naught if the voters' list is tainted with double registrations, especially if they number around two million," said Loren.

Loren, who has protested the result of the 2004 vice presidential election before the Supreme Court sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, said elections at the national level are oftentimes decided by the mere hundreds of thousands of votes.

"Two million double registrations can translate to two million spurious votes," said Loren.

The senator pointed out that while most double registrations may have been done without malice when voters changed residences, the double listings would provide an avenue to cheat.

"With a padded voters' list, unscrupulous election officers will have votes to sell to the highest bidders or, at the very least, leave the door wide open for flying voters."

She said the Comelec must purge double registrations, whether by filing individual exclusion petitions in courts or by any other legal means that would cleanse the voters' list without disenfranchising voters.

Ferdinand Rafanan, the Comelec's director for the National Capital Region (NCR), claimed that the body does not have enough manpower to file and attend hearings for exclusion petitions.

He said that the second option, which is for the Comelec to issue a blanket cancellation of the "second and subsequent registrations" may impede a citizen's right to vote, thus the need for case-to-case petitions.

Loren agreed, saying that even if a blanket cancellation by the Comelec has basis, the paramount concern with such a move is the possible disenfranchisement of voters.

"Thus, with two and a half years before the next election, the Comelec should at least try to file the petitions instead of saying it can't be done," she said.

A blanket Comelec cancellation of second or subsequent registrations would effectively disenfranchise voters who changed residences though it may weed out flying voters, she said.

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