At least 9.6 million of the 53 million registered voters in the country face possible disqualification to vote if they failed to undergo biometrics registration before November 1, 2015.
James Jimenez, spokesman for the Commission on Elections (Comelec), on Thursday said failure to undergo biometrics registration in the next 17 months will cost the 9.6 million voters the right to cast their ballot in the 2016 national polls.
“If they do not get their biometrics taken before November 1, 2015, they will be deactivated,” Jimenez said in his official Twitter account.
“That would be a lot of disenfranchised voters,” he added in an interview.
Under Republic Act (RA) 10367 (An Act Providing for Mandatory Biometrics Voter Registration), all voters are required to undergo the biometrics procedure of registration with the Comelec to obtain their digital photographs, fingerprints and signatures.
Signed by President Benigno Aquino 3rd on February 15, 2013, RA 10367 aims to curb double-registration and double or multiple voting.
Meanwhile, the Comelec will launch a “walking event” dubbed as “walkahwalkah” on May 6 to promote awareness on voter’s registration, validation and biometrics registration.
According to Jimenez, the poll body will organize three major events to drum up support for the biometrics registration: the walkahwalkah, coinciding with the start of registration in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte; registration of indigenous peoples in Tarlac; and the “Kilometer Zero” run in Rizal Park (Luneta), Manila, for persons with disability.
Comelec employees, he said, will visit municipalities to hold lectures for voters in major stops of the three events.
“We will provide materials and we will encourage the people to validate their registration. Validation is the most important here,” Jimenez added.
He explained that the walkahwalkah is an awareness program, saying the people might forget about the registration and validation.
The Comelec spokesman noted that voters, over the next few months, may be overwhelmed by the pork barrel scam and Bangsamoro issues.
“So, a project that will serve as a platform for reaching out to the people directly was created,” Jimenez said.
The Comelec has invited not private organizations and government agencies to join the poll body in raising awareness on voters’ registration and validation.
“We are planning to extend official invitations to the PNP [Philippine National Police] to walk with us,” Jimenez said.