Thursday, April 21, 2016

COMELEC warns against fake biometrics

The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) warns the public against a number of misleading claims currently circulating, regarding the use of biometrics in the 2016 National and Local Elections.

The COMELEC has been receiving alarming reports that, in a number of cities and municipalities, unauthorized persons or parties have been conducting so-called “biometrics,” purportedly with the knowledge and consent of COMELEC. This is completely false, and constitutes an electoral offense punishable by law.

Voter validation and biometrics capturing ended on October 31, 2015, and no further additions to the approved voters’ lists, national and local, are allowed.

COMELEC’s authorized biometrics gathering activities for the 2016 National and Local Elections were conducted May 2014 up until October 31, 2015. These activities were conducted in connection with the continuing registration mandated under Republic Act 8189.

With the end of the registration period in October, the COMELEC has ceased all biometrics gathering, and has since finalized the list of voters. To be clear, this means that no biometrics gathering activities have been conducted since October 31, 2015, and there will no longer be any additions to the list of registered voters in the 2016 elections, except only for Court-ordered inclusions.

Biometrics cannot be used to find out who you voted for.

The COMELEC has also taken note of the apprehension that biometrics data can be used to determine who a voter voted for. This is categorically false. Biometrics cannot be used to find out who any voter has chosen to mark his official ballot on election day.

COMELEC launched its #NoBioNoBoto campaign for the biometric validation of all registered voters in 2014, to ensure that every voter is properly identified and allowed to vote just once, only in the place where they are registered.

COMELEC biometrics involved taking a digital photograph of the voter’s face, the digital recording of the voter’s signature, and the digital capture of the voter’s fingerprints. These biometric records are used to identify each voter, together with other voter information such as the voter’s address. This information is now securely stored in the COMELEC’s databases and cannot be accessed without proper authorization.

The COMELEC will use biometrics in the 2016 National and Local Elections.

Despite the absence of election day biometrics validation facilities at the polling places, biometrics will continue to play a very critical role in securing the elections against fraudulent practices.

The biometrics data in COMELEC’s data base was used to print out the Computerized Voters Lists that will be used by polling places nationwide, to determine whether a person is eligible to vote. A person with no biometrics registered with the COMELEC will not be included in the lists of voters, and therefore will not be allowed to vote on election day.

COMELEC warns the public not to fall victim to misinformation and deception. With the elections less than a month away, more of these schemes can be expected, and we enjoin our voters to be vigilant. The COMELEC also serves notice to operators, agents and participants of these unauthorized biometrics gathering operations that they are violating our election laws, and will be subject to criminal prosecution when caught. (COMELEC)

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Albay eyes hosting SEA Games

After successfully playing host to the Palarong Pambansa 2016, Albay Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda said on Sunday he plans to bid for the hosting by Albay of the Southeast Asian Games 2019, the second biggest sports event in the world. Salceda said with the new and modern facilities used in the Palarong Pambansa, Albay is very much ready for a bigger sports event.

The facilities were constructed in a span of five months by Verzontal Builders Inc. under the close supervision of the Provincial Engineering Office.

“We only need a few more additional facilities to be able to have better hosting of a bigger sports activity, like facilities for indoor games and additional air-conditioning units for the existing facilities,” Salceda said.

The governor said he and Department of Education Secretary Armin Luistro have already talked about this and they both believe that some events of the SEA Games can be held in the province so not all would be concentrated in Metro Manila and that Manila-Albay could be co-hosts.

Aside from access facilities, he said, one of the assets of Albay in bidding is being expert in establishing and running joint operation and incident commands in more orderly and systematic manner.

In terms of accommodation, Salceda said Albay has been used to handling and taking care of a number of guests because the Albayanos have learned to face all situations in times of calamity like strong typhoons and Mayon volcano eruptions wherein not less than 50,000 individuals are being taken care of for a span of 120 days.

In terms of security, he said, all Albay needs to know is to replicate the security plan done during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in the country.

The Albay chief executive said that under the “Gintong Albay Program,” which was patterned after that of Michael Keon, the province will focus on three events where the Albayanos excel, from athletics wherein they become the champion in Palarong Bicol in three years — 2011, 2012 and 2013 — to swimming and cycling where height is not needed to win.

He said he will do this and pursue this even if he will no longer be at the provincial capitol and instead be in Congress.

All that are needed, he said, are determination, resources and early training of athletes with more incentives like what the province is now doing — Php5,000 cash incentive for gold medalist, Php4,000 for silver and Php3,000 for bronze.

In the Bicol Region, only Albay has been practicing the incentive system, Salceda said.

Meanwhile, for the maintenance of the sports facilities, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan committee on budget and appropriations headed by Board Member Ralph Andes passed an ordinance allotting Php5 million so these would be continuously taken care of.

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