Holiday sought for 4.3M voters without biometrics

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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Holiday sought for 4.3M voters without biometrics
The Comelec urges employers to give their employees a day off to register or update their voting records for the 2016 elections

MANILA, Philippines – Commission on Elections (Comelec) spokesman James Jimenez on Thursday, June 4, urged employers to declare a holiday to allow employees to have their biometrics taken for the 2016 elections.  

“Dear bosses: You have employees who won’t be able to vote because they don’t have biometrics. Giving them a biometrics day would be so cool,” Jimenez said in a tweet on Thursday.

In a definition patterned after a dictionary entry, Jimenez also tweeted: “Biometrics Day (n.) a special holiday given by awesome employers to allow the latter to go to Comelec for biometrics capturing.”

By capturing biometrics, the Comelec means taking the photographs, fingerprints, and signatures of voters, among other things, and storing these digitally. The Comelec expects these data, which it stores in voter registration machines, to help cleanse voters’ lists.

Voters who haven’t had their biometrics taken cannot vote in May 2016, when the Philippines elects its next president. 

Voters have until October 31 to have their biometrics taken or register for the 2016 elections. 

In a text message to Rappler, Jimenez said 4.3 million out of at least 54 million registered voters haven’t had their biometrics taken.

This is around 8% of the Philippines’ registered voters. 

To have their biometrics taken, voters should personally appear before the Office of the Election Officer in their localities, and bring any of the following to establish their identities:

  1. Current employee’s ID card, with the employer’s signature
  2. Postal ID
  3. Student’s ID or library card
  4. Senior citizen’s ID
  5. Driver’s license
  6. NBI/PNP clearance
  7. Passport
  9. Integrated Bar of the Philippines ID
  10. License from the Professional Regulatory Commission
  11. Any other valid ID

The Comelec explains the biometrics capturing process through this link.

Republic Act 10367, which was signed by President Benigno Aquino III in February 2013, requires biometrics data before a Filipino can vote. It says the government will deactivate the registration of voters who fail to have their biometrics taken.

The Comelec first implemented the mandatory biometrics registration in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in 2012. The registration ran from July 9-18, 2012, and included 1,816,022 voters.

Through its automated fingerprint identification system, the Comelec delisted around 280,000 voters in the ARMM, a region associated with widespread fraud.

Former Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr said this was one of his major achievements in office. –

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email