FIRING LINE: We deserve a better Comelec

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By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

Have you tried the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) vaunted Precinct Finder? If not yet, prepare your heart for shock and disappointment. Like many of our kababayan – friends and relatives of mine included – I accessed this online service of Comelec and was distraught when it flashed “no record found” after entering my name and the other details required.

Imagine not having missed a single national, local, or barangay election since I turned 18, yet I end up “not found.” In my earnest effort to set things straight, I followed the recommended remedial steps and emailed Comelec three times last week. Unfortunately, I have since received no reply.

Through social media, though, I found some comfort that there are many of us who either yielded a “no record found” or “deactivated” voter status via Precinct Finder but are actually active voters in the Comelec database.

More than keeping my fingers crossed that such is the case and that I would be able to get my vote counted on May 9, these cases of false disenfranchisement are precisely what erodes public trust in the Comelec and its automated election system.

It’s the same with the Comelec’s sorry excuse of computerization when new voters complete registration yet cannot verify their voter status. For instance, in Rizal province, the poll body admitted that 10 voters had been disenfranchised because the lack of internet access hindered entry into the system.

Our tax money deserves better than to feed us the fear and confusion of walking up to our traditional polling precincts on Election Day, doubting if we had just been illegally and arbitrarily stripped of our right to vote by a technical glitch.

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Johnny-come-lately, President Duterte at least arrived at doing one right thing this week when he stopped e-sabong operations in the country.

In exchange for a projected P8 billion in government revenues, no nation should sacrifice its social values, allow gambling to eat away a family’s means to survive, or condone collateral crimes as heinous as kidnapping and murder.

It took a while, Mr. President. Now, at least make it stick and go after those behind the mysterious disappearance of at least 32 “sabungeros.” And don’t let anybody – not Atong Ang, not even your beloved PNP generals – stop you.

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Meanwhile, I just learned from a cousin in Camarines Norte that following the death of our dear Tita Toots – reelectionist Rep. Marisol Panotes – last April 29, all votes for her on May 9 will be counted for her daughter, Rosemarie.

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