Philippines: Solon decries arbitrary removal of 1.13 voters’ names from official Comelec list

Apr. 12, 2007

News Release Thursday, April 12, 2007

Solon decries arbitrary removal of 1.13 voters’ names from official Comelec list; demands Comelec explain the methods it used to verify the names

Anakpawis Representative and political detainee Crispin Beltran today said that the Commission on Elections should not have removed more than one million supposedly unqualified voters from the official voters list for the May polls.

The Comelec has removed some 1.13 million names from the from the list including the so-called “flying voters” and double registrants. According to reports, the National Capital Region (NCR) posted the highest number of deleted unqualified voters with 73,430 while in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) some 6,059 were removed from the list.

“The Comelec should reveal the means and methods it employed to verify and cross-check the names of voters it removed from the official list of voters. Did the Comelec even bother to consult or inform those whose names they removed? That’s over a million names, and that well translates into a million votes. The previous election in 1994 already witnessed the disenfranchisement of countless Filipinos voters who aimed to vote against Macapagal-Arroyo; now there’s the big possibility that a large percentage of the 1.13 million names the Comelec arbitrarily removed are those of active voters, but now their votes would no longer be counted,” he pointed out.

“What will the Comelec do when the owners of these 1.13 names actually show up at the precincts and find that they have been disenfranchised, their names nowhere in the list of voters?”

Beltran said that the progressive party-list groups Anakpawis, Bayan Muna and Gabriela Women’s Party along with two others Kabataan Party-List and Suara Bangsa Moro also stand to be victimized by the removal of over 1.13 million names from the official voters’ list.

“In the 2004 polls, many of our supporters in the National Capital Region and the Mindanao region complained that they were turned away at the voting precincts because they were supposedly unregistered. We don’t see it as a harmless coincidence that it’s the areas where we have a strong following that many voters are being disenfranchised,” he said. “We are already being targeted for fraud, and the beneficiaries will be the fake party-list groups funded by the Arroyo government.”

Beltran, Anakpawis National party chairman and first nominee, said that the Comelec should not discard the 1.13 names yet and create an immediate back-up list and records that should be on constant stand-by. “Before the Comelec rids of any names, it should first make the effort of verifying and cross-checking the names and make sure that these people are aware that they are being threatened with disenfranchisement. A lesson we have learned in the 2004 elections is that the powers-that-be in Malacanang utilized more sophisticated means of cheating by directly tampering with the election returns, and no longer merely relying on flying or dead voters. It is not delisting of names that will protect the May polls, but the eagle-eye monitoring and guarding of the election paraphernalia, the actual voting process, the tabulation in the precincts and the transfer and surrender of election returns,” he concluded.#

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