In Davao City, voter 'impersonation' is the new trick

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/25 October)—In addition to the usual complaints of missing names and the names of the dead appearing on the voters’ list, an election official said the new “modus operandi” of “impersonating” other voters surfaced in today’s conduct of barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections.

Election officer Danilo Cullo said the scheme involves using the names of other voters who haven’t cast their votes yet.

At the Kapitan Tomas Monteverde Elementary School, poll watcher Riza Surbito said some voters were not able to vote because other persons had already voted in their stead when they arrived at the polling place.

Ryan Gudin, a 20-year-old worker and resident of Barangay 32, said he was surprised to find out that somebody already voted for him when he arrived at Precinct Cluster 532 at the Rizal Elementary School.

Cullo said he resolved at least five cases of “impersonation” this morning alone but there were many others which have not been reported to the Comelec office.

After the identity of the voter who complained of being impersonated was verified, the Comelec only took out the serial number of the previous voter and changed it to allow the “real voter” to vote, he added.

Gudin only arrived at the Comelec when the polling was about to close at 3p.m. so the agency was no longer able to help him.

Section 32 of the General Instructions by the Commission on Elections only provides that unless some members of the Board of Election Tellers (BET) challenge his or her identity, the voter presenting himself or herself as the voter listed on the voters list shall be allowed to cast his vote.

At Barangay Hizon Elementary School, the head of the board of election tellers at precinct cluster 1900 explained that they required no identification cards to be presented because some people who are unemployed may not have any identification card to present.

“As long as the information given by the prospective voter, such as his name, family name and date of birth, match with that on the voters list, they will be allowed to vote,” said the BET head.

But the lack of more stringent identification has allowed some people to claim the identities of voters and steal the votes from them.

Cullo said the number of complaints of people impersonating voters has become “so glaring” in today’s barangay elections.

Voting started promptly at 7 a.m. at the Kapitan Tomas Monteverde School, but poll watchers for barangay 34-D which covers the Claro M. Recto area complained of seeing their dead kin on the voters list.

The daughter of Jose Uyson Sr., who died in 2004, said her father was still on the voters list in precinct 5554-A despite the family’s attempts in the last two elections to mark it “deceased” in the Comelec’s list of voters.

“Every election, we have marked his name as ‘deceased’ thinking that Comelec will finally delete it from the voters master list but we still keep seeing his name every election time, ” said Uyson’s daughter Arlene.

At precinct 05564, the names of William Leong and Filemon Leong have not yet been taken off the list, according to the nephew Clark Leong.

Poll watcher Surbito also said the names of many dead people on the voters list, including those of Angelo O. Umbac Jr. and Simeona P. Fernandez of Barrio Pogi Claro M. Recto, registered twice with different birth dates at precinct 0565 B.

Cullo said Comelec was not able to delete the names from their computer system because of lack of time due to the delay in the arrival of election paraphernalia.

“We were already told by our head office not to delete the names on the list anymore because we were pressed for time,” he told MindaNews.

But while the dead continued to resurface, some of those who are still alive had trouble finding their names on the voters list. Among them is Mary Grace de la Cruz, a resident of Palma Gil Street, who complained she’s the only one in the family who has not cast her vote because her name was missing from the list. (Germelina Lacorte/Mindanews)