By Maila Ager | Inquirer.net
MANILA, Philippines— More than three million eligible voters may not be able to register for next year’s elections based on the only 1,000 daily new registrants recorded by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon issued this warning after learning during Comelec Commissioner Aimee Ferolino-Ampoloquio’s confirmation hearing at the Senate on Wednesday that the poll body was catering to only more than 1,000 new voters a day.
Ferolino-Ampoloquio said Comelec is targeting to register 7.2 million new voters before the registration period ends on September 30.
However, based on their records, a total of two million voters have registered so far — 1.7 million were new registrants and 300,000 were reactivated. Another 1.6 million voters would be extracted from the Sangguniang Kabataan record, she said.
She said Comelec hopes to cover the remaining 3.6 million by registering 600,000 voters monthly until September.
But Drilon noted the official’s own statement that Comelec was catering to only 1,000 new registrants daily, which means only 180,000 voters would be registered in the next six months.
“What do we do now? 180,000 lang out of a universe of 3.6 million assuming your figure is correct,” the senator asked.
“Yes, your honor, the 3.6 million may opt to register…however, we can’t force them to come to the registration centers…” the commissioner said.
Her answer did not sit well with the minority leader.
“I’m already fed up. Please don’t keep on passing the blame to the voters. You must do something to encourage them to register and provide them the facilities that they will be able to register. Don’t keep on blaming the registrants that we have a low registration because it’s their fault. I don’t accept that, Madam chair,” Drilon said.
“At the rate you’re going today, you will only be able to register 180,000 after six months or a potential of roughly 3.4 million voters who should have been registered but are not registered…” he went on.
Ferolino-Ampoloquio explained there are still ongoing applications that have not yet been included in their most recent report. The more than 1,000 daily registrants earlier mentioned were just recorded before the conduct of satellite registration.
“So as I’ve said, the number will rise since we’re already going to the barangays,” she said, earlier noting that past experiences showed a higher number of registrants if Comelec would go to barangays.
To reach the remaining 3.6 million target voters, Ferolino-Ampoloquio said the body would step up its campaign for voter registration and even extend the voting hours.
She also expects a higher number of registrants if online registration would be made available.