Monday, May 16, 2011

COMELEC junks proposal for manual ARMM polls

By:  Mayen Jaymalin

MANILA, Philippines - The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) elections will definitely be automated, a source at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said yesterday.

The poll body, according to the source, has already junked a proposal to go to manual in the ARMM polls.

The poll official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Comelec rejected the appeal of newly appointed Commissioner Augusto Lagman for manual elections.

“He (Lagman) really raised the issue of having manual elections but the commission en banc has decided to honor the earlier decision,” the source said.

“It is already official therefore that the ARMM elections will be automated, if ever (the polls will) push through,” the source added.

The source said the deliberation was “healthy” and “cordial” although it began with Lagman strongly pushing for the manual system.

In the end, the source said, Lagman conceded defeat to his six fellow commissioners.

“The (commission) en banc ultimately decided to go automated in these ARMM elections pursuant to the election automation law,” the source said.

Lagman was the foremost critic of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines used in the 2010 national and local elections, citing the technology’s insufficient transparency as required under Republic Act 9369 or the Poll Automation Law.

Upon his appointment, Lagman said he would exert all efforts to convince his fellow commissioners to revert to the manual system since the ARMM elections only involve a small number of candidates and winners.

The Comelec is set to use some 5,000 PCOS machines in the regional polls.  It already has 900 units and is looking at buying 4,000 more.

Comelec is now negotiating with service provider Smartmatic International Corp. for an “option to purchase” the PCOS machines used in the May 10, 2010 elections.

Security measures

Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) is preparing security measures for the special congressional election in the first district of Ilocos Sur and for the ARMM polls as well.

PNP chief Director General Raul Bacalzo has met with the heads of the national support units and the regional police directors to assess the prevailing situation in the country, especially in Ilocos Sur and the ARMM.

“We are preparing for the elections in Ilocos Sur and ARMM, although nothing is final in the ARMM elections.  We need to prepare for that,” said Bacalzo after presiding over the PNP’s second quarter conference last week.

The special election in the first district of Ilocos Sur was called to find a replacement for former congressman Ronald Singson who was convicted of drug trafficking by a court in Hong Kong last February.

Bacalzo said they are also readying security plans for the ARMM polls, which are initially set on Aug. 8.

The Senate has yet to pass a Palace-backed measure postponing the ARMM elections and synchronizing the exercise with the May 2013 national elections
The House of Representatives earlier had passed its own postponement bill.  Two petitions questioning the move are pending before the Supreme Court.

Former senator Aquilino Pimentel yesterday said the move to postpone the ARMM polls is already “dead” due to lack of time.

“MalacaƱang’s position is not tenable.  They are pushing hard for poll postponement and the appointment of OICs (officers-in-charge), but they have to follow legal processes,” Pimentel said.

“They need to first amend the ARMM Organic Law and subject it to a plebiscite.

That is the process and the ARMM Organic Law was adopted only after it was subjected to a plebiscite.  That would be difficult for them since they cannot hold a plebiscite before the elections.  There’s no time,” he added. With Cecille Suerte Felipe, Edith Regalado

Friday, May 13, 2011

Resolution No. 9220 - Guidelines for Registration of Persons With Disabilities (PWDS)

Resolution No. 9220
[Promulgation: 12 May 2011]

WHEREAS, Resolution No. 9149 promulgated on 22 February 201, entitled Rules and Regulations for the Resumption of the System of Continuing Registration and Validation of Records in Non-ARMM, provides that they system of continuing registration for Non-ARMM areas shall resume on 1 April 2011, and end on 31 October 2012;

WHEREAS, Resolution No. 9168, promulgated on 22 March 2011, resets the schedule for the system of continuing registration in the Non-ARMM areas from 1 April 2011 to 3 May 2011;

WHEREAS, Article 29 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, ratified by the Philippines, directs State Parties to guarantee to persons with disabilities political rights and the opportunity to enjoy them on an equal basis with others and undertake measures to enable PWDs to vote on equal basis with others, inter alia;

WHEREAS, the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act 7277 as amended by RA 9442 or the Magna Carta for Persons with Disabilities defines PWDs as those suffering from restriction or different abilities, as a result of a mental, physical or sensory impairment, to perform an activity in the manner or within the range considered normal for a human being;

WHEREAS, the Technical Working Group constituted to help formulate policies to afford Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) greater access to the electoral processes, including the registration process, has recommended the identification of the type of disability of registrants to enable the Commission to amply prepare for the kinds of assistance that may be extended to PWDs on election day;

WHEREAS, the continuing registration should provide PWDs the change to update their records by filling up the appropriate forms so that they can be accurately identified by the Commission on election day;

NOW, THEREFORE, by virtue of the powers vested in it by the Constitution, the Omnibus Election Code, Republic Act No. 8189 and other related election laws, the Commission on Elections RESOLVED, as it hereby RESOLVES, to promulgate the following guidelines in filling-up the Registration Forms involving PWDs.

Section 1. Coverage. - These Guidelines shall cover the following registration-related-activities:
a. Application for Registration; 
b. Application for Transfer/Transfer with Reactivation; 
c. Reactivation of Registration Record; 
d. For Application for Change/Correction of Entries; and 
e. Validation of Registration.
Section 2. Persons with Disabilities (PWDs). - Persons with disabilities (PWDs) shall include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments, which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others,  For purposes of these Guidelines, PWDs shall include those with any of the following disabilities, which hamper the full enjoyment of the right to suffrage:
a. Physical - Pertains to conditions associated with muscular or skeletal functions that limit a persons performance of activities associated with movement, both the person himself and/or of objects. 
b. Hearing - Pertains to conditions associated to the auditory senses that can manifest as partial or complete loss of hearing. 
c. Speech - Pertains to conditions related to difficulties in communicating through speech. 
d. Visual - Pertains to conditions associated with visual senses that can manifest as partial or complete loss of sight, among others. 
e. Non-Manifest - Pertains to conditions that are not immediately apparent but may need assistance from the COMELEC.
Section 3. Filling-up the Registration Forms. - For PWDs needing assistance, the applicant for registration/reactivation/transfer/correction of entry may indicate in the appropriate box (pertaining to disables/differently-abled persons), the type(s) of impairment, as well as the form(s) of assistance needed during election day, as follows:

Example:  For person with physical impairment (code: 1) needing accessible precinct (code: C), put 1C on the box pertaining to disabled/differently-abled persons.

Section 4. Accomplishment of application Form. - A PWD who cannot by himself/herself accomplish an application for registration, shall be assisted by the EO in the preparation of his/her application form, or by any member of an accredited Citizens arm, or a relative within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity, or if he/she has none present, by any person of his/her confidence who belongs to the same household, in accordance with Section 9 of Resolution No. 9149.

Friday, May 6, 2011

COMELEC sets early voter's registration for 2013 polls

MANILA CITY, METRO MANILA — Starting May 3, new and eligible voters for the upcoming 2013 elections can start filing their applications, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said.

“We are urging all eligible first-time voters who will turn at least 18 years old on May 2013 to file their voter's registration this early.  Let us avoid last-minute registrations so we can take part in electing our nation's leaders,” said Comelec spokesman James Jimenez.

Deadline of registration is October 31, 2012 but the Comelec is encouraging early registration so it can prepare better for the conduct of automated polls with the use of special ballots, such as those used in the May 2010 national elections, he added.

Aside from first-time voters, persons who want to transfer registration records to a new residence; change, update or correct entries such as those for newly-wed women who changed surnames; and voters whose records were deactivated for failure to vote in the past two elections can also file their applications within the registration period.

All voter applications must be personally filed at the office of the election officer in the municipal or city office where the applicant resides and wishes to vote.

Voters no longer need to bring photographs because his or her biometrics records composed of a digital photograph, fingerprints, and signature will be entered in data capturing machines during the filing of registration.

The biometrics registration is important to purge the voter's list of duplicate registration records and to update records of voters who were unable to enroll their biometrics information with Comelec, according to Resolution No. 9149 promulgated on February 22.

Applications will be received from Monday to Saturday, inclusive of holidays during regular office hours from 8am to 5pm.  There will be no registration on December 22 to January 2 for the Christmas break.

Schedules for satellite registration in highly-populated areas will be announced after coordination with Comelec municipal and town offices.

Applicants must bring any valid school or government ID to register. Community tax certificates (Cedula) and certifications from the barangay will not be honored as valid identification documents.

For inquiries, contact the Comelec education and information department at (02) 525-9294. - By: Anna Valmero

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

SC orders Palace, COMELEC, Congress to answer ARMM petitions

MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court (SC) yesterday ordered the executive and legislative branches to answer petitions opposing the proposal to postpone the elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) set in August this year to 2013.

In a two-page resolution, the SC gave the Palace, Commission on Elections (Comelec), Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. to submit their respective comments to the petitions of groups led by Datu Michael Kida of the Maguindanao Federation of Autonomous Irrigators Association and lawyer Alex Macalawi of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Marawi City.

The respondents were given a non-extendible period of 10 days to comply with the order issued by Chief Justice Renato Corona in behalf of the SC full court that is on decision-writing recess until the third week of this month.

In separate petitions filed last month, the two groups composed of barangay officials and concerned voters in the ARMM questioned before the SC the legality of House Bill 4146 and Senate Bill 2756, which both intend to synchronize the ARMM polls with the mid-term national elections in 2013.

Kida and Macalawi both sought the issuance of a temporary restraining order enjoining Congress from further proceeding with both bills, which they argued are unconstitutional as they violate Republic Act 9054 (the ARMM’s Organic Act) that sets regional elections on the second Monday of September this year.

In his group’s petition, Kida argued that the proposed postponement also “violates the principles of a democratic and republican state mandated by the Constitution, and the right of Muslims in the region to local autonomy.”

The proposed postponement “would deny the voters in ARMM their right to elect their officials for a period of two years, in violation of their right to equal protection of the law, which guarantees the right of all qualified citizens to participate in local government on an equal footing,” Kida’s group further argued.

Macalawi’s group, on the other hand, argued in its 35-page petition that HB 4146, if enacted to law, would be the eighth postponement of the ARMM polls within the region’s 21-year existence.

“And this time Congress should be enjoined from this corrupt customary practice of repeatedly postponing ARMM polls and to stick to the prescribed regular ARMM elections provided in RA 9054,” the group said.

But the two groups differed as to when the ARMM polls should exactly be held. The first one believes that the polls should be held on Sept. 12 pursuant to RA 9054, and the second group, on Aug. 8 as set in RA 9333.

The administration of President Aquino supports the proposed postponement of the ARMM polls, saying many local officials in the autonomous region support it.

Meanwhile, the Comelec has rescheduled the filing of certificates of candidacy (COCs) for the ARMM polls.

In Resolution No. 9211, the Comelec said candidates can file their COCs from May 14 to 18. The original schedule was May 9 to 13.

There are some two million registered voters in the ARMM provinces of Basilan (except for Isabela City), Maguindanao (except for Cotabato City), Sulu, Lanao del Sur, and Tawi-Tawi.

They will elect their regional governor and vice governor, and members of the regional legislative assembly.

“The COC shall be filed by the candidate personally or by his duly authorized representative. No COC shall be filed or accepted by mail, telegram or facsimile,” the Comelec said.

The poll body asked candidates not to use titles in their names when they file their COCs.

“Titles such as don, datu, doctor, ginoo or words of similar imports shall not be allowed,” it said. – Edu Punay, with Sheila Crisostomo,

Monday, May 2, 2011

Voter registration and validation of registration records resumes today

Voter registration and validation of registration records in areas not within the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) resumed on Tuesday, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said.

The continuing registration in non-ARMM areas was supposed to resume on April 1, 2011 but was moved to May 3, 2011.  It will end on Oct. 31, 2012.

However, the Comelec said voter registration will take a short break from Dec. 22, 2011 to Jan. 3, 2012.  The next national elections will be conducted in May 2013.

In Comelec Resolution 9168, the poll body said voter registration was reset because their regional election directors needed more time to procure and deliver voter application forms to the offices of provincial election supervisors.

Comelec Resolution 9149 says that voters not yet registered are required to personally file at the Office of the Election Officer in the city or municipality where the applicant resides their applications for:

  registration;
  transfer of registration records;
  change or correction of entries in the registration records;
  reactivation of registration records;
  inclusion of registration records, or 
  reinstatement of name in the list of voters.

Registration hours

The Comelec said applications will be received from Monday to Saturday, including holidays, during regular office hours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

However, it said satellite registrations for detainee voters in detention centers shall also be conducted beginning January 12, 2012 to "ensure wider voter participation."

However, the Comelec announced in a separate resolution that resumption of voter registration in 10 municipalities in the 1st district of Ilocos Sur will be moved to July 1, 2011 since the poll body still has to conduct special elections in the area on May 28.

The 10 municipalities are: Bantay, Cabugao, Caoayan, Magsingal, San Ildefonso, San Juan, San Vicente, Sta. Catalina, Sinait, and Vigan City.

On the other hand, the 10-day voter registration for the August 2011 ARMM polls ended last March 31.


The poll body said any Filipino citizen who is at least 18 years old, a resident for at least one year in the place where he intends to vote – for at least six months immediately preceding the election day – may file an application for registration.

Applicants need only bring any valid ID when they register, such as but not limited to:

  Current employee’s ID, with the signature of the employer or authorized representative;
  Postal ID;
  Student’s ID or library card, signed by the school authority;
  Senior citizen’s ID;
  Driver’s license;
  NBI/PNP clearance;
  Passport;
  Integrated Bar of the Philippine (IBP) ID, and
  License issued by the Professional Regulatory Commission (PRC).

The Comelec reminded applicants that community tax certificates (cedula) and barangay certifications will not be honored as valid identification documents. - VVP, GMA News

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