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Barbers’ bills tackle common poll problems

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By Ellson Quismorio

These measures filed by Surigao Del Norte 2nd district Rep. Robert Ace Barbers seek to address two common headaches of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) during poll season.

Robert Ace Barbers (Photo courtesy of america.pink | Manila Bulletin)

Robert Ace Barbers
(Photo courtesy of america.pink | Manila Bulletin)

Barbers penned and filed House Bills (HBs) 8371 and 8372, which increases penalties against so-called “flying voters” and amends the period of election registration from 120 days to one year before a regular election, respectively.

Barbers, chairman of the House committee on dangerous drugs, said his bills intend to solve Comelec’s perennial problem on flying voters and other dubious voter registration activities.

“These bills will give the Comelec ample time to check the legitimacy of the voter’s information and to clean up the Comelec’s voters list,” he noted.

Barbers added that HBs 8371 and 8372 will bring the nation closer to attaining electoral results that truly reflect the will of the people.

“It’s about time we ensure the veracity and efficiency of our voting processes. And through such legislation, I hope honest and clean politics will soon prevail,” the Mindanao solon pointed out.

Barbers also noted how corrupt officials hold on to power through vote-buying and employing flying voters. Flying voters, or voters who have double or multiple registration, are rampant in the Philippine political setting.

“These illegal practices have long been causing inaccurate and false reflection of who the people want to represent or lead them. We’re always going to hear about cases of voter fraud, but I believe that there is hope for our integrity as a nation,” Barbers said.

His measure, HB 8371 seeks to amend Section 264 of Batas Pambansa (BP) 881 or the Omnibus Election Code of the Philippines.

If enacted, the bill would impose against flying voters fines of P100,000 to P1 million, as well as imprisonment of six years to 12 years.

On the other hand, HB 8372 intends to amend Section 8 of Republic Act (RA) 8189 or the Voters’ Registration Act of 1996.

“The bill seeks to amend the period of election registration from 120 days to one year before a regular election. This is to give the [Comelec] lead time to verify if new registrants are legitimate residents of the place where they propose to vote. This is to also encourage voters to register early,” the bill read.

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