By LOVE ILUSTRE, DXSM
JOLO, Sulu—The Commission on Election (Comelec) provincial supervisor here has warned residents against multiple registrations, or enlisting as voters in different areas.
Atty. Vidzfar Julie issued the warning amid observations that the number of registrants has reached 300 in some registration centers, despite a limit of 200 applications per day per center.
The Comelec started last Monday a 10-day general registration of voters in five provinces and two cities of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao to purge previous voters’ lists which were considered padded and a source of cheating during elections. The registration ends on July 18.
The five provinces of the ARMM are Sulu, Tawi-tawi, Basilan, Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao, with the two cities Lamitan and Marawi. The region had a population of 4.1 million as of 2007 spread out over 113 towns and 2,470 barangays.
Julie said multiple registrations will be found out before the 2013 elections meted out punishment, since the Comelec will have to validate the information submitted by registrants.
Some sanctions include the disapproval of all applications of multiple registrants and the filing of court charges with a penalty of up to six years imprisonment.
As early as April this year, the Comelec en banc approved Resolution 9404 that proposed the conduct of general registrations of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao that counts Sulu among its five provinces.
Among that issues that the resolution agreed to resolve was to “proceed with the annulment of the book of voters, subject to pending petitions if found meritorious, in Maguindanao and other areas on a case-to case basis as may be warranted by the circumstances, such as the annulment of the book of voters in the seven barangays of Maimbung, Sulu.”
On June 11, the House of Representatives and the Senate approved Joint Resolution No. 3 annulling the voters book of the region citing that “the practice of padding the Book of Voters has been resorted to by unscrupulous political leaders to perpetuate themselves in power and gives them a sense of invincibility to commit unbridled abuses and anomalies.”
The resolution also said that the “anomaly in the ARMM has national ramification because these ‘ghosts’, fictitious and double (some are triple) registrants constitute the so-called ‘command votes’ or ‘controlled votes’ wielded by political warlords that could decide the winner not only in local but most importantly the national elections.”
Sulu is an island province with 19 municipalities and 410 barangays. As of August 2007 census, it had a population of 849,670.
(Love Ilustre is a reporter for the Jolo-based radio station DXSM. ARMM WATCH is a project of VERA Files in partnership with MindaNews, The Asia Foundation and Australian Agency for International Development.)