Comelec gets ready for lines-A A +A
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
CEBU CITY -- Apart from bus terminals and ports, the offices of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) can expect long lines today, Wednesday, the last day for the registration of voters.
Cebu Provincial Election Supervisor Lionel Marco Castillano said there will be no extension because that would leave the poll body with too little time to prepare for the May 2013 elections.
“The Comelec has a timeline. There is a schedule being followed. If we move and extend the registration, it will affect the preparation for next year’s election,” Castillano said in Cebuano.
He advised those who want to be registered today to wait patiently for their turn to be assisted by Comelec personnel.
“Pinakaimportante dad-on ang taas nga pasensya kay kung init ang ulo, dugay ta mahuman (The most important thing registrants should bring is their patience, because flashes of temper will only delay us),” Castillano said.
He also advised applicants to bring a pen and a valid ID, as these are the usual things that registrants forget.
At 3 p.m., Comelec personnel will start listing the names of those still in line.
Those who arrive beyond that time will not be attended to anymore.
In Cebu City, north district election officer Marchel Sarno said one of the biometrics machines got stuck once in a while, because it has been overused in recent days.
Castillano said the voter registration machine, previously known as the data capturing machine, can only accommodate a maximum of 250 registrants.
But this round of registrations has lasted nearly two years, Monday to Saturday, so Comelec officials point out the last-minute registrants only have themselves to blame for their ordeal.
Among those who beat the deadline on Tuesday were actress Ruffa Guttierez and 98-year-old Ponciano Tresfuentes.
Both did not have to line up behind throngs of people: Tresfuentes, for being a senior citizen and Gutierrez, for being a celebrity.
Sarno said if Gutierrez had been made to join the queue, it would have created chaos among the starstruck people.
“This is also for the safety of the people lining up to register,” explained Sarno.
Gutierrez and her father, Eddie Gutierrez, were escorted to the Comelec regional office where there is no registration. She passed through the back to reach the north district election office, accompanied by her mother, Annabelle Rama, who is running for north district congresswoman.
Rama’s two other sons, Richard and Richie Paul, will be registering today.
Benjie Dayondon, one of the election assistants of the Lapu-Lapu City Election Office, appealed to registrants today to arrive early. The office will open at 8 a.m.
Dayondon also advised registrants to bring complete requirements, particularly a valid identification card with the address reflecting where he or she would register.
For those whose registrations need to be reactivated, they should bring a marriage certificate, if there is a need for a status change, or a birth certificate, Dayondon added.
Comelec’s Cebu City offices are bracing for a long night.
If registrants were snaking outside the election offices during the past two days, it is expected that the line will be longer today.
Comelec had to set a cutoff at 10 a.m. last Monday to accommodate over 570 registrants. The cutoff on Tuesday was at 8:30 a.m. so Comelec personnel could call it a day at 5 p.m.
Today, though, Comelec expects to end at midnight or even early tomorrow (Thursday) morning.
Comelec Resolution 9542 states that the cutoff time will be at 3 p.m. and registrants within a 30-meter-range will be listed and registered.
Among the lucky ones in Tuesday’s crowd were Tresfuentes and Gutierrez, who did not have to wait so long to be registered.
The Rama-Gutierrezes have properties in Barangays Busay and Kamputhaw, while the Rama clan has an ancestral house in Barangay Zapatera.
On the part of Tresfuentes, he was carried by his granddaughter Mona Bulaong on her back.
According to Comelec records, Tresfuentes is 98 years old, although his eldest child Alicia Pahamutang thought he was already a hundred years old.
For some years, Tresfuentes had been a scavenger on Colon St. Pahamutang learned recently that her father could no longer walk.
Pahamutang, a resident of Basak-Pardo, was advised by barangay captain Dave Tumulak to register her father so he can avail of the benefits of being a senior citizen in Cebu City, such as the P10,000 financial assistance to senior citizens and the City Hospitalization and Medicines Program.
“Sa una, dili siya ganahan mo-uli sa amo katong makalakaw pa siya. Pagkabalo nako dili na siya kalakaw ako nang gikuha. Amo nalang giparehistro para makaavail mi sa benefits kay wala mi kabalo unsa unya’y mahitabo (Before, he did not want to go home with me when he could still walk. When I learned that he could no longer walk, I went to get him. We had him registered so he can avail himself of the benefits because we don’t know what will happen to him),” Pahamutang told Sun.Star Cebu.
Tresfuentes reclined on a trisikad as he was taken to the Comelec office by his daughter and granddaughter. Since he is a senior, he went through an express lane, carried by his granddaughter. (JGA/FMG/With JKV of Sun.Star Cebu)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 31, 2012.