Hundreds lose chance to vote-A A +A
Thursday, November 1, 2012
CEBU CITY -- Hundreds of would-be voters trooped to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Metro Cebu on Wednesday, but many did not make it to the cut-off time.
Provincial Election Supervisor Lionel Marco Castillano said large numbers of applicants were reported in the cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu. He lamented that a lot were not registered since the Comelec could no longer accommodate them.
In Manila, Kabataan party-list Representative Raymond Palatino filed an urgent petition that asked the Supreme Court (SC) to compel Comelec to stretch the registration until January 12, 2013.
Castillano said this also happened in the 2010 elections.
The registration that time was resumed in December 2009 and lasted for 10 days, but only for new voters.
The election supervisor said they will just comply with the SC’s decision on the petition.
Castillano said they will have the total number of registered voters after the election registration board hearing on December 19, when they will decide which applications should be approved or disapproved.
In Mandaue City, the Comelec stopped giving registration forms around 10 a.m. because the office would only accommodate up to 700 registrants.
In Lapu-Lapu City, more than 1,000 would-be voters turned up at the Comelec office on the last day, said lawyer Ann Janette Chua-Hu Lamban, Lapu-Lapu City election officer.
They stopped accepting registrants at 3 p.m.
Lamban said the registrants started lining up outside City Hall early in the morning. Like in Mandaue, they had to deal with registrants who lacked documents or forgot to bring IDs.
In Talisay City, Election Officer Corazon Moran said that due to the high turnout, she ordered her personnel to distribute registration forms only until 11 a.m. Those who arrived after the cut-off time were advised to go home.
“Pasensya na gyud kung mu-cut off mi. Muconsider sad mi sa mga registration forms available (We’re sorry if imposed a cut-off time. We also have to consider the number of registration forms available),” Moran said.
Despite the complaints from disgruntled applicants, the last day of voter registration in Talisay was generally peaceful and orderly, the election officer said.
Lawyer Anne Fleur Gujilde, Mandaue’s Comelec officer, said they could not register all those who turned up on the last day of the registration because they only have two data capturing machines.
Comelec officers also had to deal with registrants who brought wrong documents or forgot to bring IDs.
Many of those who registered on the last day cited work and classes as reasons for registering late, said Gujilde.
Hundreds of applicants also failed to enlist in Cebu City, as they did not make it to the 3 p.m. cut-off time. Most of those who were not accommodated by Comelec personnel arrived late Wednesday morning.
North district election officer Marchel Sarno said that as early as 7 a.m., there were already some 600 registrants waiting outside their office.
“So katong naulahi, wa na gyud (Those who came late were not accommodated),” he said.
Sarno said those who were not accommodated cannot blame their office since they had 16 months to register to vote in the 2013 elections.
To keep the registration peaceful and orderly, the poll offices requested the Cebu City Police Office to deploy police officers to their building yesterday.
Most of the would-be voters who went to the Mandaue City Comelec office were teenagers, Gujilde said. They also registered persons with disabilities (PWDs) and senior citizens.
“Surprisingly, many pregnant women came to register,” Gujilde told Sun.Star Cebu.
The Comelec in Mandaue held off-site registrations in the barangays starting last December. They also conducted special registrations for PWDs last March and August.
For every off-site registration, they registered up to 250 voters.
But Gujilde said the off-site registrations did not reduce the number of registrants who went to Comelec on the last few days of registration.
At 2 p.m., 44-year-old Jacinta Rabanes sat on a curb outside the Mandaue Comelec office. When she arrived past 9 a.m., a Comelec officer told her they would no longer accept registrants.
Rabanes, a machine operator residing in Barangay Tipolo, Mandaue City, admitted that she could have registered earlier but chose to wait until the last day.
But for Gujilde, voters were given ample time to register.
Cebu City congressional candidate Annabelle Rama’s family was lucky. Nearly all of them are now registered voters of the city.
Following their father Eddie Gutierrez and sister Ruffa, Annabelle’s celebrity son Richard and Richie Paul submitted their registration forms to the Comelec north district office at 2 p.m. Wednesday.
Like Ruffa who registered as a Cebu City voter last Tuesday, Richard and Richie registered as residents of Barangay Camputhaw. The address of their father, though, is in Barangay Busay.
Richard’s girlfriend Sarah Lahbati and her mother Estrella also applied for registration as voters of the city.
Estrella said they have a house in Camputhaw and they come to Cebu every now and then. Sarah, who is a first-time voter, said she chose to register in Cebu City so she can help campaign for Anabelle.
The election law provides that anyone can qualify as registered voter as long as they are Filipino, a resident of the Philippines for one year, and a resident for six months in the area where they intend to vote.
“Kung di sila taga dinhi gyud, mo-qualify gihapon sila kay kung six months residency (ang requirement), masud man. Dapat November sila magsugod puyo diri (Even if they are not from here, they will still qualify because they will still make the six-month residency requirement if they start residing here by November at the latest),” Sarno said.
Meanwhile, Anabelle answered those who criticized her family for not falling in line when they submitted their voter’s registration forms.
“Pagnaug pa gani ni Richard diha nagubot na. Nagubot na ang linya sa gawas. Di sila magpataka. Sige silag daot ni Ruffa. Sige silag daut ni Richard. Ayaw na sila apila. Ako ra kay di ko mahadlok nila (When Richard got down from the car, the crowd started to get rowdy. Some people keep on badmouthing my children. Leave them alone and attack me instead, because I’m not afraid of these critics),” she said.
Anabelle also defended Sarno, who was accused of giving special treatment to her family, adding that Sarno did not even know that they were coming to register.
“Ayaw na basula si Atty. Sarno kay wa na siya’y labot (Don’t blame him because he has nothing to do with this),” she said.
In Talisay, the complaints were about skipping lines but centered on allegations of bias.
Before the registration started at 8 a.m., some registrants who arrived early complained to reporters that some Comelec personnel allowed others to register ahead, even though it was not 8 a.m. yet.
While she admitted that some people were allowed to register early Wednesday morning, Moran said these were the individuals who failed to register last Tuesday.
Moran explained that last Tuesday, while the Comelec personnel were wrapping up the registration for the day, the utility workers of Talisay City Hall turned off the lights in the People’s Hall.
She then instructed those who were not able to register last Tuesday to return the next day and assured them that they will be prioritized.
In an interview Wednesday afternoon, Moran said they were lucky that none of their data capturing machines and computers bogged down.
“Thank God, our computers cooperated,” she added. (Sun.Star Cebu)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on November 01, 2012.