11% dropped from GenSan, SouthCot’s voters’ list in Comelec ‘cleansing’ drive

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 16 Jan) – The number of registered voters here and nearby South Cotabato province has dropped by around 11 percent due to the “cleansing” of the area’s voters’ list in the last several months by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Lawyer Jay Gerada, Comelec-South Cotabato election supervisor, said Wednesday the area’s total registered voters so far reached 669,432, decreasing by 69,871 when compared to the number of voters in the 2010 local and national elections.

Comelec-South Cotabato’s operational and administrative coverage comprises this city and the province’s 10 towns and lone city.

Based on the Comelec’s data, South Cotabato and this city have total established precincts of 4,927 and 893 clustered precincts in 368 voting centers.

The official said the decline in the area’s number of voters was mainly due to the purging of 75,606 voters in the city.

From the listed 309,543 registered voters in 2010, Gerada said the city’s number of voters for the upcoming May 13 midterm local and national elections has gone down to 233,937.

But the number of voters in South Cotabato has increased to 435,495, which is 5,635 higher than the total voters for the previous polls, he said.

“(The decline) was mainly due to the exclusion of the multiple registrants, deceased persons and those who either failed to vote in the two previous elections or did not validate their registrations,” Gerada told MindaNews.

The official said they were able to weed out a significant number of multiple registrants through the Comelec’s automated voter’s information database.

During the validation of the voter’s list, he said they found out that some voters have multiple registration records and have even used different identities.

“But when we compared their pictures in our database, we found out that we’re looking at just one person,” Gerada said.

The official said that aside from the 105 alleged “flying voters” that were earlier nullified in Tampakan town, there were no other cases of exclusions recorded in the area due to questionable voter’s registration applications.

He said they were not aware whether the excluded voters or their petitioners in Tampakan town have elevated the matter to the courts.

Based on Comelec rules, concerned persons or parties may seek the intervention of a local court on matters regarding the exclusion or inclusion of a voter.

“If the concerned parties have filed petitions before the court, either for inclusion or exclusion, then it’s already out of our hands,” Gerada explained.

Tampakan’s election registration board (ERB) earlier removed the 105 applicants from its list of registered voters after failing to prove their legitimacy as residents of the area.

The nullified registration applications were among the 620 individuals that were earlier sought for exclusion by the town’s Liberal Party-Nationalist People’s Coalition alliance as they were supposedly “flying voters” and non-residents of Tampakan.

Tampakan Vice Mayor Relly Leysa, who had filed the petition for the nullification of the alleged “flying voters,” had vowed to seek the intervention of the local court over the matter.

Leysa, who is seeking the town’s mayoralty post, said their verification showed that the 620 applicants were not legitimate residents of Tampakan.

The vice mayor will challenge re-electionist Mayor Leonardo Escobillo of the United Nationalist Alliance.

The official said they obtained certifications from officials of barangays and puroks declaring the 620 applicants as non-residents of their area.

He said it turned out that some of the applicants were official residents of nearby Koronadal City, Tupi town in South Cotabato and Columbio town in Sultan Kudarat. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)