The Philippine Star : No flying voters in mobile registration app – Comelec

News & Interviews
21 June 2021

By Mayen Jaymalin | The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — There’s no way “flying voters” can invade the newly launched mobile registration app, according to the Commission on Elections.

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez noted that the poll body has installed the necessary safeguards to prevent fake voters from trying to register.

“They still have to go the Comelec offices. You can make the information that you say pertains to you. But, ultimately, you have to put a face behind it. You have to be a warm body. You have to show up,” Jimenez said in a television interview Friday.

Jimenez said aside from physically visiting the local Comelec offices, a prospective voter must also have biometrics data taken to complete the registration process.

Included in the biometrics data are the digital images of the voter’s photograph, fingerprints and signature.

“Showing up means you have to give your biometrics to the Comelec, which is really the best protection in terms of ensuring that there is only one voter, one identity,” Jimenez explained.

The Comelec launched last week the Mobile Registration Form App allowing the public to apply for voter registration by typing in the necessary information required by the app.

An encrypted QR Code will be generated once the user finishes providing all the required details, and can be saved in their mobile phone’s photo gallery.

The user will then visit the local Comelec office to have the QR Code scanned and biometrics taken.

Comelec is pilot testing the project in 575 cities and municipalities nationwide.

‘Allow online COC filing’

Meanwhile, owing to social distancing due to the pandemic, an official of the House of Representatives wants the Comelec to modify its rules regarding the deadline for the filing of certificates of candidacy, allowing the COCs to be filed online.

“In most, if not all, provinces, cities and towns, Comelec offices are too small to accommodate many candidates and their supporters. It would be impossible for them to observe physical distancing in these workplaces,” Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez said.

The Cagayan de Oro City congressman proposed that all candidates – both in the national and local levels – should be permitted to file their candidacy certificates online when the Comelec opens its period for filing of COCs from Oct. 1 to 8 this year.

But in a hearing held last week, Comelec Commissioner Marlon Casquejo told lawmakers that the law does not allow candidates to file their COCs online, since such can only be done via personal appearance, or at most, through a representative.

Rodriguez, a former law dean, agreed that there is such a requirement, “But the Comelec has to do these online now because of the pandemic. The law and regulations have to adapt to the present emergency situation.”

“Let us do online registration and online filing of certificates. Let us see who will question it. I am sure the courts are aware of the situation because they are also adjusting to it,” the senior administration lawmaker said.

As for the lack of funds, he said the Comelec could use its savings.

He said that while he is filing a bill allowing online voter listing and filing of certificates of candidacy, the Comelec has the power under the Constitution to implement them online in view of the current public health emergency. – Delon Porcalla