Comelec’s dilemma-A A +A
Thursday, November 1, 2012
I WAS at our town’s Commission on Elections (Comelec) office in the old Balamban municipal building yesterday. Two or three other offices occupied the whole level where that of the Comelec was located, with a spacious hall at the center. The place was crowded with people seeking to register.
Only two Comelec personnel were there: the head and her assistant. They had two computers, but one broke down and was unusable. I estimated the crowd to total to almost 300, but the two personnel could only process about one hundred and fifty applicants holding priority numbers, whom they hope to accommodate up to three o’clock, the official closing time. But they said they could extend up to five o’clock.
I pressed the office head to tell me whether she could extend their office work for as long as there are applicants for registration. She became quite frank about it: they could only extend up to five o’clock per the Comelec commissioner’s instructions.
This is probably a matter of citizens’ discipline. The Comelec had been registering people of voting age the year round. Comelec personnel even went out to the villages or barangays asking qualified people to register. Very few did.
When I left the Comelec office, I noted that four younger girls were helping out the personnel. But it was obvious that their presence was still not enough. Those who were waiting to be given priority numbers could not have been registered without extending Comelec work until the next day.
I think thousands of Filipinos would be disenfranchised in the 2013 polls if Comelec would not extend the registration process. But the disenfranchisement would still be worth if it would teach our citizenry to change their ways.
What I had some sort of misgivings, though, were the young students I saw. They obviously had classes and could not go home to their respective towns to register. Perhaps, the DILG could extend notice to schools next time and set a date for them to register in their schools.
In any case, Comelec would not be remiss in its responsibility if it finds a way to register students who had tried to register in Comelec municipal offices but could not do so because they were crowded out by their more aggressive elders, including those given pocket money by some candidates so they would register.
Then there is the matter of voters’ identification cards (IDs). Some early registrants told me they were told by Comelec personnel that the IDs were sent back to Manila.
Something is amiss here. Why should the IDs be sent to Manila? Or are these being withheld by Comelec to be given “at some proper time”? Again, this is part of Comelec’s dilemma. I hope this will be resolved, too, before May 2013.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on November 01, 2012.