By Ferdinand Patinio

CIVIC DUTY. Voter applicants have their biometrics data taken at the Commission on Elections main office in Intramuros, Manila on Monday (Feb. 12, 2024). The Comelec is looking at filing charges against 100,000 individuals found to have multiple voter registrations. (PNA photo by Yancy Lim)

MANILA – Some 100,000 individuals found to have multiple voter registrations will soon be charged with election offenses, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said Wednesday.

In a Bagong Pilipinas Ngayon briefing, poll body spokesperson John Rex Laudiangco said the number is part of the close to half a million registrants they have detected in 2023. 

“Last year, we delisted some 500,000 double and multiple registrants. By our assessment, 100,000 of them were deliberate (attempts). Registration of more than once for purposes of being a flying voter is considered as an election offense,” Laudiangco said.

An election offense case is punishable with one to six years imprisonment, removal of right to vote and disqualification to hold public office.

He said the filing of charges should serve as a warning against those planning to apply for more than one registration.

Laudiangco also warned them that the Comelec will be able to detect such attempts.

“We will surely capture these multiple registrants because all new applicants will be undergoing the automated fingerprint identification. We are capable of detecting if you have another registration. If we see one, you may face election offense charges,” he added.

Meanwhile, Laudiangco said some 175,000 applications for registration were received by the poll body on the second day of the voter registration period for the May 2025 midterm elections.

Comelec chair George Erwin Garcia said Tuesday’s figures nearly doubled the number of the registrants during the start of the registration period on Monday.

 “We will hold voter registration activities until Sept. 30 so the numbers are really encouraging,” he said in a separate interview.

At the same time, Garcia said they are preparing to tap religious establishments owned by the Catholic Church, Iglesia ni Cristo, Jesus is Lord Church and El Shaddai as satellite registration venues.

He said they are also planning to bring the registration process in Camp Abu Bakar owned by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

“We want to bring it everywhere so that we can show that voter registration does not choose any sector,” he added. 

The Comelec expects some 3 million new registered voters during the seven-month voter registration period.

Meanwhile, the Comelec in Western Visayas called on registrants from the region, including those interested in availing of the RAP, to enlist early and not wait for the Sept. 30 deadline.

“To those who plan to participate in any electoral exercises, election or otherwise, this is now the time to register if you haven’t registered because this is the first step when we can exercise our right of suffrage,” said Comelec regional elections director for Western Visayas lawyer Dennis Ausan on Wednesday.

The registration covers not only new registrants, but also those who wanted to apply for transfer due to a change in residence, deactivated for whatever reason, change of status and correction of entries, among others.

Ausan said residents outside of Iloilo but are here for work or other reasons can also register through the RAP.

He said the RAP is available in Comelec offices in the highly urbanized cities of Iloilo and Bacolod and capital towns, including Jordan, in Guimaras; San Jose de Buenavista, Antique; Kalibo, Aklan; and Roxas City in Capiz.

Registration is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., including Saturdays and holidays.

A National Voters Day will be held on Feb. 21 at the West Visayas State University cultural center in this city. (With a report from Perla Lena, PNA)