AT least three million voters may not be able to participate in next year’s local and national elections if they fail to have their biometrics captured until October 31, 2015, the deadline for the registration of voters, Sen. Francis Escudero warned on Sunday.
He urged voters to validate their registration while there is still time.
At the same time, the senator called on the public to help the Commission on Elections (Comelec) boost its information drive and encourage registered voters to have their biometrics captured.
Pursuant to RA 10367, registered voters whose photographs, fingerprints and signatures have not been captured must submit themselves for validation before the city or municipal election officer.
Those who fail to validate their registration before the deadline shall be taken off the list of voters and shall not be able to vote in May 2016.
“We are running under a platform of inclusiveness. Yet at least three million qualified voters will be left behind and will not be able to vote in 2016 if we will not help the Comelec,” Escudero said.
The poll body early this year launched its “No Bio, No Boto” campaign and scheduled satellite registrations in malls and barangay (village) halls to make the voter registration and validation procedures more accessible.
As of last month, 369,865 registered voters were found to have no biometrics in Metro Manila while around 100,000 voters each in Cavite, Rizal and Nueva Ecija also had no biometrics data.
At least 18 percent of registered voters in Cotabato City and Kalinga province have not undergone the validation process.
Escudero said the call for voters to have their biometrics captured is consistent with the platform of Sen. Grace Poe—Walang Maiiwan (No one will be left behind)—which is anchored on the principle of inclusiveness.
“To paraphrase retired Chief Justice Reynato Puno, the polls are the great equalizer because all of us, regardless of our status or background, have one vote, and it is our responsibility to use the elections as our opportunity to get our voices heard,” the senator added.
Escudero reminded voters that their vote is important.
He said the consequences of the potential disenfranchisement of three million voters are worrisome.
“I also understand that Comelec is doing its mandate in accordance with law, but the thought of disenfranchising millions of otherwise qualified voters is bothersome. It does not matter whether they are our supporters or of the other candidates. The important thing is that they are able to express their choices through their ballots,” the senator pointed out.
Also on Sunday, the Comelec said close to six million voter’s identification (ID) cards remain unclaimed nationwide.
Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista urged the 5,969,072 voters to claim their IDs.