TACLOBAN CITY- The Commission on Elections (Comelec) reported that there are more than 130,000 registered voters in the region without biometrics data. Lawyer Jose Nick Mendros, Comelec regional director said that registered voters without biometrics cannot cast their votes during next year’s election as provided by law. The 134,510 registered voters of the region who have no biometrics represent 5.27 percent out of the original 456,000 voters who do not have their biometrics. “But our target is to lower it to just three percent considering many in the list could be dead already. However, we could not just delete their names as we need a certification from the Civil Registrar or an affidavit from the nearest kin,” Mendros said. Under Republic Act 10367, otherwise known as the Mandatory Biometrics Register Act, voters are mandated to register or validate their biometrics or be barred from voting in next year’s general elections.

Biometrics refers to the automated identification of an individual, which includes his picture, finger print and signature recorded by a computer during the registration.
Mendros said they want to ensure that all registered voters in the region to have their biometrics taken for them to vote. “We’re talking here of the right to vote. Everybody should be counted. We have exerted all efforts for them to know the campaign,” he said. The country is to hold a general election next year. The deadline for voters to have their biometrics taken is on October 31 with the exceptions on October 12 to 16, days of the filing of certificates of candidacy who will run in the 2016 elections.

The registration for biometrics data started last May 6, 2014. Mendros said that since they started their campaign, dubbed as “no bio, no boto,” they have made several measures to ensure that those who have no biometrics could be reached. For one, they posted list of voters in the barangays who have no biometrics and even wrote to all local chief executives, to include the governors, to help them on their campaign.

“We also conducted satellite registrations,” the Comelec regional director said. Based on their records, there are still 44,097 registered voters in Leyte who have no biometrics; 42,979 voters in Samar; 26,125 in Northern Samar; 11,667 registered voters in Eastern Samar; 7,883 in Southern Leyte and 1,749 in Biliran.
The region has total voting population of 2.51 million. BY: JOEY A. GABIETA