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Back to basic

By Dr. Ramon Ricardo A. Roque, CESOI, Diplomate

Last week’s Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections illustrated that nothing substantial has been done to solve the perennial election problems encountered by Filipino voters.

As reported by major news organizations and as experienced by some people I know, some voters were not able to exercise their right to choose their Barangay and SK officials because their names were not in the official list of voters.

In most, if not all, of these cases, the concerned voters did not expect to encounter the problem because they voted in the May 2016 national and local elections and, thus, should not be purged from the list of voters.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is saying that the problem may not really be a case of voters being taken out from the list of voters but being assigned to new clustered precincts. The Comelec re-clustered the precincts as early as June 2017 because of their foreseen shortages in the number of election officers and the number of classrooms to be used for the elections.

There is really nothing wrong with the re-clustering of precincts especially if it is done as an intervention to preempt a foreseen problem. However, the intervention requires other actions also to prevent other problems from occurring – like the case of “missing names” in the voters list.

Has there been enough and effective communication to voters on the changes made? Those I know informed me that they did not even know that Comelec made a re-clustering of precincts.

As re-clustering of precincts appears to be a necessary action on the part of Comelec, perhaps, the agency needs to rationalize, at the very least, its system of producing the lists of voters.

What exactly are the bases for assigning a particular voter to a particular precinct? Most Filipinos do not know these bases because the same were not effectively communicated to them. They were simply assigned to a precinct when they registered.

Why can’t Comelec adopt the old but reliable system of alphabetical listing of voters in one barangay? The constant re-clustering of precincts will have no significant effect and will not cause confusion as voters will simply have to look for precincts where their surnames are assigned to. With this system, a voter does not have to check the voters lists in all precincts in searching his or her assigned precincts.

Going back to something as basic as an alphabetical listing of voters in one barangay can certainly address the perennial problem of missing names. It can also facilitate the easier identification of who is responsible for the disenfranchisement of voters as finger-pointing on who’s at fault for one’s failure to vote will no longer be necessary.