Ghost roads and bridges leading to ghost schools attended by ghost students being taught by ghost teachers

No shortage of teachers in ARMM following elimination of ‘ghost pupils’ (Inquirer News)

The top education official in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao claims that unlike other regions plagued with shortages of teachers and classrooms no such problem was evident in the ARMM when school opened last Monday.

“There were no teacher and classroom shortages even after we had cleansed the payroll of ghost teachers,” ARMM Secretary of Education Jamar Kulayan told reporters here Wednesday. That was because, as the joke goes, they also eliminated a lot of “ghost students” and “ghost schools.”

The ARMM saved approximately US $19 million by cleaning out the ghosts.

ARMM, Philippines: Lack of Legal Framework Undermines Biometric Voter Exercise

Doubts raised ARMM can purge voters’ list (Yahoo – Philippines)

In another case of how good management and good technology need to be in the same place at the same time in order to make a real difference, an apparent legal oversight means that the process of disqualifying fraudulent voter registrations in the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao is to be so time consuming that it may be impossible to complete before the scheduled elections.

As far as I can tell, the laws governing the biometric voter registration in the ARMM don’t make any provision for rejecting multiple registrations. There also isn’t any mention of it being against the law to register multiple times. Given its electoral history it’s difficult to assume that local authorities can have been surprised by any of this.

The situation in the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao stands in stark contrast to Sierra Leone. See Woman Sentenced for Double Voter Registration.

More on Ghost Voter Registrants in ARMM

This detailed and wide ranging analysis of the fraud surrounding the voter rolls in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) at least ends on an optimistic note.

Expelling banshees (Inquirer News)

ARRM is haunted by phantom students, wraith-teachers, “even ghost schools in ghost barangays,” says Jamar Kulayan, who was appointed January. A Tausug, Kulayan found it had become practice in the region for teachers to bloat student-enrollee numbers.

There are 2,000 teachers in excess of 20,000 officially hired. “Names of teachers already dead, retired, or abroad were still listed.” They and continue drawing their salaries. A “Task Force on Moratorium of Abolition and Creation of Schools” is now operational.

The new final Book of Voters is still ahead. But a consensus on making honest elections the centerpiece of ARMM reforms exists, notes Institute for Autonomy and Governance’s Fr. Eliseo Mercado, OMI… The new technology of biometrics will be used to ensure honest polls.

If this drill succeeds, it’d be a fitting legacy for P-Noy, new ARRM officials and NGOs working to purge lists. Exorcising banshees is a welcome change.

This detailed and wide ranging analysis of the scope the fraud surrounding the voter rolls at least ends on an optimistic note. See: At Least the Kids Can’t Vote Twice in ARMM, Philippines

At Least the Kids Can’t Vote Twice in ARMM, Philippines

Biometrics do a good job at telling people apart, but they aren’t any good for determining an individual’s age independent of other reliable database information.

Fraud found in day 1 of Armm voters registration (Sun Star)

It was in Datu Odin Sinsuat that she first noticed the trend — teens below the voting age were in the registration centers accompanied by people claiming to be their parents and herded together by people who, when asked, confirmed to be barangay workers.

Kiram (not his real name) stood outside the classroom at the Taviran Elementary School that had been converted into a voting center. He was clutching three copies of voters registration form and waiting for his turn behind the voter registration machine — a finger scanner and web camera mounted on a computer that ran on special software.

De Villa, who was about to enter the classroom, saw Kiram and immediately asked for his age. He said he was 20 but gave the wrong birth year when pressed. A woman who immediately introduced herself as Kiram’s mother spoke up and said he was indeed 20 and was her third son.

This is the kind of story that causes the anti-biometrics crowd to say, “See I told you this stuff doesn’t prevent fraud in elections.” That’s true, as far as it goes. Nobody should be promising that biometrics prevent fraud in elections.

In the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) case, even though biometrics can’t keep individuals that are by law too young to vote off of the voter roles, the ID technology, properly applied, can prevent any person voting multiple times. That’s a good thing.

Biometric systems properly applied can drastically reduce the amount of fraud in elections. In elections, it’s important to ensure that the margin of error (including fraud) is less than the margin of victory. For example: A 1% error (or fraud) rate in one direction doesn’t translate to an electoral advantage in a 60%-40% election but a 5% illicit advantage makes all the difference in a 51%-49% election.

So, by helping to reduce fraud, biometrics can make it less likely that the margin of fraud will exceed the margin of victory in a given election.

Perfect is the enemy of Good. Return on Investment, not perfection, it the relevant metric.

Earlier posts on ARMM:
Philippines: Biometrics a Hot Topic in Autonomous Region
Philippines ARMM: Biometric Voter Registration Underway

Philippines: Biometric Voter Registration Underway Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)

Comelec starts voters’ registration in ARMM (Inquirer News)

Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said that they have started on Monday the 10-day voters’ registration period for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

He told Radyo Inquirer 990AM over an interview that they have finished deploying their registration teams and machines and have started registration at 8 a.m. save for remote islands which will start listing voters a bit later within the day.

APRIL 23, 2012: Philippines: Biometrics a Hot Topic in Autonomous Region