MANILA - Malacañang on Thursday declined to comment on reports that those lining up during the last day of voters' registration are part of a "hakot" crowd bused in by barangay leaders.
Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the Palace is not privy to the registration process.
"We are not in a position to comment on that… primarily because we have no basis… to make any statement, considering that we were not part of the registration process… I also heard or saw the reports na sinabi niyang (Chairman Sixto Brillantes) may hakot. But we leave it with him to explain if there's some basis to that because registration, election 'yan e, so we are out of that. We don't interfere in the process, registration process of the Commission on Elections, regardless of any election," Lacierda said.
However, he said the large number of people wanting to register is a positive development.
"It is good, however, that more people participate in the election process. That's a very sacred right. The right of suffrage is a sacred right and that should be exercised by every Filipino. As to the process of registering, that's another matter which we leave with Comelec," he said.
Comelec Chairman Brillantes earlier said he does not doubt that some of those who lined up to register as voters on Wednesday were bused in and paid by local politicians.
"Hindi maghihirap iyan, pipila, umuulan, nandun pa rin sila kumakain, dala 'yung mga bata dahil walang magbabantay. Maliwanag ito, hindi naman tayo siguro ganun kabait (para) magsasakripisyo nang walang sinasabing bayad," Brillantes told dzMM.
Brillantes said the poll body, using its automatic identification system, has a way of knowing whether a registrant is eligible for transfer of residency in the Comelec records.
He explained that a 6-year residency is required for a voter to be allowed to transfer from one barangay to another. This means that a person who already voted in the recently concluded May elections is already disqualified for transfer of residency.
Abolition of SK
Meanwhile, the Palace said Congress is free to pass legislation on the proposed abolition of the Sangguniang Kabataan even as the Department of the Interior and Local Government is studying the proposal.
"If someone would like to file a bill in Congress-I don't know if anyone has filed a bill--that's within the prerogative of the congressmen to do so, if they wish to do that. But, independent of any legislative action to that effect, the executive is studying already the call for the abolition of the SK," Lacierda said.
Lacierda said that even if the SK system is abolished, registering for the SK elections will not be futile.
"Whatever happens in the SK status, once you're registered--and hopefully you will continue to exercise your right of suffrage--that will be good for you, as a registered citizen."
Poll Commissioner Lucenito Tagle earlier urged Congress to pass a bill that will abolish the SK, saying the SK no longer serves its purpose of coming up with policies for the youth.
Tagle said the SK has become a breeding ground for corruption and vote-buying activities. He also noted SK elections are being used to set up political dynasties.
The SK was created under the Local Government Code of 1991, replacing the Kabataang Barangay which was established through a Marcos decree during the martial law era.