THE voter is not a supplicant.

Suffrage, the right to vote in elections, is enshrined in the Constitution.

Article V Section 1 says: "Suffrage may be exercised by all citizens of the Philippines not otherwise disqualified by law, who are at least eighteen years of age and who have resided in the Philippines for at least one year and in the place wherein they proposed to vote for at least six months immediately preceding the elections. No literacy, property, or other substantive requirement shall be imposed on the exercise of suffrage."

The Constitution does not say that aspiring voters need to line up in the blazing hot sun whilst Commission on Elections (Comelec) officials put them through rigmaroles before their right to vote is confirmed.

Provincial Election Supervisor Jessie Suarez reportedly said that voters who fail to complete their data with Comelec will be delisted from the official voters for the 2016 elections.

Oh yeah?

I welcome the recent appointment of Negrense Atty. Rowena Guanzon as a Comelec commissioner. She has the intellectual acumen, which Mr. Suarez seemingly does not, to recognize that the corollary of the voters' right to vote is that Comelec needs to act as a facilitator and not to impose obstacles that create difficulties for voters to exercise their franchise.

Therefore, it is the responsibility of Comelec to reach out to those who have not "complied" with Comelec's required biometric information. I believe this information means fingerprints and signature. Almost five percent of 1,557,006 registered voters in Negros Occidental have not yet gone through the biometric exercise. It is Comelec who should invite these registered voters to their offices to complete the formalities.

Comelec has an uneasy relationship with technology. Is it necessary? If a voter is registered, he should be able to vote. Not so, says Comelec. Does this make Constitutional sense? I do not think it does.

The voting systems in many countries do not include biometric hurdles. They are not necessary for the conduct of free and fair elections.

The use of automated counting for the 2016 elections is uncertain. Ideally, a rigorous automated system completely eliminates post-electoral fraud. In principle, therefore, automated counting should be used.


In 2013, it was becoming apparent that our Automated Teller Machine (ATM) cards were unsafe. It was possible for the nefarious ones to "skim" the data from the magnetic stripe of our card and to use this data to make illicit transactions, especially ATM withdrawals.

There were, however, technological advances that foiled the crooks. One advance was the use of an embedded "chip" on the card from which the data could not be skimmed.

As I recall, it was in 2013 that Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) instructed banks to use these safer cards by January 1, 2015. Some banks, for example, Sterling Bank of Asia, complied with this instruction.

Many other banks have not. This is regrettable. Customers are entitled to as safe a banking environment as is technologically feasible. In their advertising, banks are becoming increasingly manipulative. They exhort the customer to be careful with a plastic card which is inherently insecure. They are trying to transfer sole responsibility for larcenous transactions onto the customer. Getting your own money back can be difficult, if not impossible, with some banks.

It would be appreciated if BSP could reinforce its 2013 instructions for banks to issue ATM cards which cannot be skimmed.

Banks have made much of the fact that, due to advances in data encryption, it is now more difficult for crooks to capture data that is being transmitted from ATM machines to banks' central computers. This is gratifying but of less significance than for the banks to issue ATM cards with embedded chips which are safe in comparison with the easily skimmed cards.