Monday, October 18, 2021

Editorial: Register, practice our right to vote

THE 2022 National and Local Elections are fast approaching. By this time, we are seeing potential candidates slowly starting to make some noise. Some have confirmed that they will be running for another term while others will be seeking a higher elective position. Others have not or are still not clear whether they will run in the upcoming elections or not.

On October 1 to 8 will be the filing of certificates of candidacy from the president to the municipal councilors. Therefore, by September, we will see more politicians making their political plans clear.

With how our leaders responded to the Covid-19 pandemic, there could be drastic changes as to who will be sitting on those elective positions. Those changes will be made by none other than the registered voters.

Hence, it is important for eligible Filipinos to register for the upcoming elections.

Republic Act No. 8189 or The Voter’s Registration Act of 1996, states that "All citizens of the Philippines not otherwise disqualified by law who are at least eighteen years of age, and who shall have resided in the Philippines for at least one year, and in the place wherein they propose to vote, for at least six months immediately preceding the election, may register as a voter."

The law also states that the following shall be disqualified from voting: (a) Any person who has been sentenced by final judgment to suffer imprisonment of not less than one year, such disability not having been removed by plenary pardon or amnesty: Provided, however, That any person disqualified to vote under this paragraph shall automatically reacquire the right to vote upon expiration of five years after service of sentence; (b) Any person who has been adjudged by final judgment by a competent court or tribunal of having committed any crime involving disloyalty to the duly constituted government such as rebellion, sedition, violation of the firearms laws or any crime against national security, unless restored to his full civil and political rights in accordance with law: Provided, That he shall automatically reacquire the right to vote upon expiration of five years after service of sentence; and (c) Insane or incompetent persons declared as such by competent authority unless subsequently declared by proper authority that such person is no longer insane or incompetent.

On July 10, Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon tweeted that the Comelec has already processed 5.45 million new registrants.

“As of July 10, we have around 5.45 million registrants @COMELEC. If we automatically reactivate 6.3 million that would be a record,” she said.

On August 23, Commission on Elections (Comelec) spokesman James Jimenez said over 61 million Filipinos are already registered and eligible to vote for the upcoming 2022 elections.

“We set the expectation at 59 million. We blew past 60 million, and we're now – based on partial reports – at 61.06 million registered voters,” Jimenez said in a tweet.

Despite exceeding their target, Comelec continues to urge Filipinos to register as the voters' registration ends on September 30, 2021.

“Mao ginahaw-ag nako ang mga tao, kung kamo wala pa karehistro, or gusto mo mag-transfer sa inyong (I am encouraging the public, especially those who have not registered, or those who wanted to transfer their) registration records, bisita namo sa among (visit your nearest) Comelec offices,” Lawyer Gay Enumerables, Comelec-Davao assistant regional director, said in a recent virtual presser.

To cater to more voters, Comelec has extended its registration hours by two hours on Mondays to Fridays from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Registration hours were initially set from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Their office is also open during Saturdays and holidays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Comelec has also made the reactivation of voter data online for people who failed to participate in the past two consecutive elections.

To make registration more accessible to people, Comelec has also made it accessible through satellite registration sites in malls or other areas it may have identified. Comelec-Davao has posted on its official Facebook page the venue and schedule of satellite registration sites in the region. However, as of August 2, Comelec-Davao City announced on its Facebook page that satellite registrations in Davao City remain suspended.

With a month to go before the voters' registration ends, practice your right to vote by registering with Comelec. Every vote counts. Each vote will determine the course of the country in the next six years.


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