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Jan 4 is new crucial date for party-list groups

Reynaldo Santos Jr
Posted on 12/11/2012 2:47 PM  | Updated 12/11/2012 8:35 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) plans to move to January 4 the date when it will hold a raflle to determine how party-list organizations would be listed on the official ballots for the May 13 polls.

Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento told reporters on Tuesday, December 11, that they are postponing the December 17 raffle. The poll body needs to finish all pending cases regarding partylist accreditation for the 2013 elections, he said. The Office of the Comelec Secretary (ComSec) told Rappler that more disqualification cases are to be heard, but failed to give the exact number of remaining cases.

"We're fixing everything. We don't want to have any problems, so we're moving it to January 4," Sarmiento said.

This is the second time that the date for the raffle has been moved. Comelec originally set the raffle on December 14, but pushed it to December 17, along with the creation of a special committee that will supervise it, headed by Sarmiento.

This is also the first time that the poll body will be deciding the party-list slots at random.

It was only in 2010, the first time the elections were automated, that all the participating groups had to be listed down on the ballot. Voters had to shade the oval corresponding to their chosen group.

At the time, the groups were listed in alphabetical order, thus encouraging subsequent applicants to register names that started with "1" or "A" to make sure they appeared on top of the list.

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez earlier said the raffle is meant to avoid party-list groups jockeying for the first letters of the alphabet or number 1.

Of the 187 party-list groups listed on the 2010 ballot, for example, 12 groups had names beginning with the number 1, while 103 groups had acronyms beginning with the letter A.

Out of the 83 party-list groups accredited for the 2013 elections, 9 groups have names beginning with the number 1, while 49 groups have acronyms beginning with the letter A.

OAV reactivation

Meanwhile, Sarmiento added that they will also move to January 7 next year the deadline for the reactivation of the registration of overseas voters who failed to participate in the 2007 and 2010 elections.

According to Resolution 9567, a total of 238,557 OAV may be removed from the voters' list for their failure to participate in the 2007 and 2010 elections. They originally have until December 21 to submit a manifestation of intent to reactivate their registration and participate in next year's national elections.

The law states that voters who don't vote for two consecutive national elections may be removed from the voters' list.

"We're giving them consideration because of their unique situation, so we set a new date," Sarmiento said.

Comelec estimates that some 915,000 absentee voters from several countries abroad are registered to vote in the 2013 elections. This is higher that the figures in the 2010 elections, where 589,830 absentee voters were registered.

Most of these voters are concentrated in Singapore and Hongkong, which were allowed to use election machines for voting. Voters from other countries either manually vote in their respective posts, or send their votes via courier mail.

Overseas voters will be allowed to vote from April 13 to May 13 next year. - Rappler.com

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