Press Release
October 9, 2009

Gordon to Comelec: Cleanse voters' list to ensure clean, honest
and credible polls in 2010

Senator Richard J. Gordon (Ind.) has stressed the need to purge the voters' list to further ensure clean, honest and credible elections in May 2010 through the digitized capture of voters' biometrics and personal data to eliminate multiple and dead voters.

Gordon, father of election modernization in the Philippines and author of Republic Act (RA) 9369 or the amended Automated Elections System, stressed that capturing biometric information, added to automating the elections, would further eliminate election cheating.

"The automation law would eradicate wholesale cheating. However, automating the elections, alone, would not be sufficient to address all election irregularities," he told officials of the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

"The existence of flying or ghost voters, or underage or other ineligible voters, has remained prevalent because of insufficient safeguards to reliably identify and separate between legitimate and illegitimate voters," he added.

The Comelec is preparing to automate next year's elections, which was made possible with the enactment of RA 9525, or the law that appropriated P11.3-billion as supplemental appropriations for an automated election system and for other purposes.

Section 1 of RA 9525 states that "the sum of Eleven billion three hundred one million seven hundred ninety thousand pesos (P11,301,790,000.00) is hereby appropriated to fund and support the holding and conduct of an Automated Election System, the procurement of services, supplies and machines on a lease purchase agreement including mandatory biometric registration of voters."

In 2003, the Comelec started to capture the biometric information of all voters under the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS). However, a Comelec report showed that the biometric listing only covered 24 million out of the 48 million registered voters.

Comelec officials claimed that lack of sufficient funding, among others, prevented the poll body from fully utilizing the biometric machines.

During the budget hearing of the Comelec Wednesday night, Gordon thumbed down the Comelec officials' complaint that the lack of legislation hampers them from progressing further in capturing voters' biometric data.

"You do not need a law. You can mount advertisements, especially television ads, so that more voters will have their biometric data captured. I believe in you and I know you can do it. You have already covered fifty percent of the registered voters, I know you will be able to cover a lot more," he said.

"You have the P4-billion from the supplemental allocation. The law tells you how to spend it," he added.

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