27, 2013

NR # 3028B

Biometrics registration now a statute
The proposed mandatory Biometrics Voter Registration measure has been signed into law by President Benigno Aquino III under Republic Act No. 10367. “The new law seeks to establish a clean, complete, permanent and updated list of voters through the adoption of biometrics technology,” Rep. Susan Yap (2nd District, Tarlac), principal author in the House of Representatives, stressed. Earlier, Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes told a public hearing conducted by the Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms chaired by Rep. Elpidio Barzaga, Jr. (Lone District, City of Dasmariñas) that of the 52 million registered voters, about 9 million have yet to submit biometrics. Biometrics refers to the quantitative analysis that provides a positive identification of an individual such as voice, photograph, fingerprint, signature, iris, and/or such other identifiable features captured by a device called Data Capture Machine (DCM). Registered voters whose biometrics had not been captured shall submit themselves for validation to be conducted by the City or Municipal Election Officers. Under R.A. 10367, the Commission on Elections shall conduct validation beginning July 1, 2013, consistent with the continuing registration under Republic Act 8189. The Comelec shall cause the publication of the commencement of the validation in two newspapers of general circulation. The City or Municipal Election Officer shall serve individual written notices by registered mail with return card to the voters concerned at their latest address in the voter’s registration record and post the list of voters concerned in the city or municipal bulletin board and in the local Comelec office. Voters who fail to submit for validation on or before that last day of filing of application for registration for purposes of the May 2016 elections shall be deactivated pursuant to the proposed biometrics law. However, those deactivated under the proposed measure may apply for reactivation after the May 2016 elections following the procedure provided in Section 28 of R.A. 8189 or the Voters Registration Act of 1996. The Comelec is also mandated to implement a mandatory biometrics registration system for new voters, and the database generated by the biometric registration shall be secured by the Commission and shall not be used, under any circumstances, for any purpose other than for electoral exercises.

The new law also provides for penalties for violations of the proposed Act as covered by Sections 263 and 264 of Batas Pambansa Bilang 881, as amended, otherwise known as the “Omnibus Election Code.” Penalties under the said provisions of the Omnibus Election Code would be imposed on “any person who shall prohibit, impede, obstruct or prevent a registered voter or a new voter from submitting his or her biometrics for capture through the use of force, intimidation or monetary consideration.” Those to be penalized include “any public official or person who, under the guise of implementing this Act, shall unjustifiably and without due process, cause the deactivation or reactivation of any registered voter.” The Comelec is also mandated, within 60 days after the effectivity of the Act, to promulgate the implementing rules and regulations. The Act shall take effect 15 days after its publication in at least 2 newspapers of general circulation. (30) dpt

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