THE voters list for the May 10 polls is reportedly padded by five million.
Retired Lingayen Archbishop Oscar Cruz made this revelation after Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) reported that there are 40,000 flying voters in the official list of Davao City and Davao del Sur.
According to Archbishop Cruz, his source -- a former commissioner of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) -- showed him the documents detailing which areas and the numbers of voters that were added.
“This person started the cleansing of the voters list up to 2005. After that when she was out of office, the Comelec did not continue the cleansing, so it became even more. That is the estimate that she has and I got that in writing,” Cruz told reporters during the weekly forum sponsored by Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
Based on records of the Comelec, there are more than 50.7 million registered voters for the May 10 elections.
But Cruz declined to name the former commissioner.
During the term of then chairman Alfredo Benipayo, the Comelec was supposed to implement the P6.5 billion Voters Registration and Identification System (VRIS) project that aims to cleanse the voters list of double, multiple and flying voters.
The VRIS project was aborted in 2000. It also includes the precinct mapping projects.
Former Comelec Commissioner Luzviminda Tancangco, then chairman of the poll body’s bidding committee, was charged of graft before the Sandiganbayan due to alleged overpricing of the project.
The Comelec allocated only P1.2 billion budget for VRIS.
Photokina Marketing Corp. was declared as the winning bidder for the VRIS project.
In 2004, Tancangco’s seven-year term ended but she was slapped with graft charges by the National Citizens Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) for her failure to automate the counting and canvassing of the May 2001 political exercises.
Cruz also noted that apart from the padded voters list, Cruz also advised candidates to be wary of the implementation of the first ever fully automated elections.
Cruz noted that since the Comelec is clustering four to five precincts, there is a possibility that not all of the voters will be able to vote due to time constraints.
“If you cluster four to five precincts, you’ll have 1,000 voters. If the voting is from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. for 1,000 people to vote, everybody has only 43.2 seconds to look for his or her name, to register, to get the ballot, fill it up and feed it,” said Cruz.
Also, the prelate said another possible problem that candidates should look at are the 5,000 cellphone signal jammers that might delay the transmission of the election results but also stops the transmission.
At the same time, the retired Archbishop mentioned the existence of the “dagdag-bawas” operators in the Comelec.
Though he noted that former Maguindanao provincial election supervisor Lintang Bedol had been axed by the Comelec, there are still other groups there that are involved in this irregularities during the election.
“The dagdag-bawas structure is intact. They (Comelec) only dismissed one (Bedol) but they are all there,” he said.
Last month, the Comelec en banc dismissed Bedol from the service and forfeited all his benefits after finding him guilty of violating the Article 226 of the Revised Penal Code and merit criminal sanction. Article 226 penalizes a public officer who removes, destroys or conceals documents or papers officially entrusted to him.
Aside from Bedol, 12 other Comelec field officials are placed on floating status, including Comelec Armm regional director Ray Sumalipao, on charges ranging from simple insubordination to electoral sabotage.
Both Sumalipao and Bedol are known to be protégés of disgraced former Comelec Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano, who allegedly conspired with President Arroyo in rigging the 2004 presidential election results.
Other field officers charged were Lanao del Sur PES lawyer Yasib Nasin; Lanao del Norte PES lawyer Hamilton Cuevas; North Cotabato PES lawyer Yogie Martirizar; South Cotabato PES lawyer Lilia Radam; Lanao del Sur Election Officers (EO) Paisal Manding, Alauya Tago, Mamacodai Colangcag and Cayandatu Muliloda;, North Cotabato EO Dante Parrenas; Lanao del Sur Election Assistant Camal Calandada; and Cavite Election Assistant Jayson del Rosario. (MSN/Sunnex)