By Aleta Nieva Nishimori | ABS-CBN News
MANILA— The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) on Saturday called on more Filipinos of voting age to register, extending its registration days to Saturdays starting Feb. 20 as it seeks to enlist 4 million more voters ahead of the 2022 Presidential elections.
“Ang registration simula Feb. 20 ay hanggang Sabado na. Pwede na kayong magparehistro ng Sabado mula alas-8 hanggang alas-5 at huwag natin sasayangin ang pagkakataon maging parte ng demokarasya,” said COMELEC spokesperson James Jimenez.
(Starting Feb. 20, the registration will be until Saturdays. You may now register on Saturdays from 8 a.m to 5 p.m. Let’s not waste the opportunity to be part of democracy.)
In an interview on TeleRadyo, Jimenez said the voter registration turnout is still very low.
“Since September 1, kulang-kulang na 1.3 million pa lang ang narerehistro natin at mahigit kumulang 4 million pa ang hahabulin natin,” said Jimenez.
(Since Sept. 1, around 1.3 million have registered and we need to register about 4 million more.)
Eligible voters planning to register may go to Comelec offices in their respective muncipalities or cities.
“’Yung satellite registration hopefully by the end of this month meron na tayong ma-announce na schedule para diyan pero for now extended muna sa weekends pero sa Comelec office pa rin,” he said.
(Hopefully by the end of this month we’ll be able to announce the schedule for the satellite registration but for now, we extended registrations until weekend in Comelec offices.)
Jimenez said the commission en banc has approved overtime pay for its personnel to accommodate voters’ registration on weekends.
“Palagi nating sinasabi na talagang kakailanganin ng ganitong klaseng sakripisyo on all sides kasi nga napakalayo ng expectation natin versus what we actually have right now, “ he said.
(We always say we need this kind of sacrifice from all sides because we are still far from our expectation versus what we actually have right now.)
Voter registration was suspended for months last year because of movement restrictions due to the pandemic. It resumed in September 2020 and will continue until the end of September this year.
The Comelec spokesperson assured the public that their offices are safe and that health protocols are in place. He encouraged those going to register to wear face masks and face shields and ensure that they bring with them documents needed for registration.
“We would encourage you to please make an appointment kasi kapag pumunta ka doon at walk-in ka lang ay hindi ka bibigyan ng priority,” he said.
(Please make an appointment because walk-ins will not be given a priority.)
He also reminded that the first step is to go to the irehistrocomelec.gov.ph and fill up the application form.
Download the form and bring the back-to-back copy printed on a long bond paper to the Comelec center along with other documents such as a valid government ID showing residence information. If the valid ID has no residence information, they may bring other documents such as proof of billing.
Meanwhile, Jimenez said Comelec is still discussing the matter of face-to-face campaigning.
“Napag-usapan na rin ‘yung outright ban pero alam nating masyadong maraming papalag sa outright ban. Many people will find it difficult to comply so hanap tayo ng magandang compromise,” he said.
(We have discussed the outright ban but we know many would be against it. Many people will find it difficult to comply so we will look for a compromise.)
He said they are only after the safety of people who would be attending rallies of candidates and may issue some guidelines in campaigns.
“Masyado pa ring maaga para magsalita nang tapos dito but definitely magkakaroon po ng restrictions whether or not it’s an outright ban. Again, medyo extreme na siguro ang outright ban,” he said.
(It’s too early to say but definitely there will be restrictions, whether or not it’s an outright ban. Again, maybe an outright ban is a little extreme.)
He urged those who have plans to run for the 2022 polls to not put people at risk.
Comelec, he said, will make some changes come election day to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among voters. One of these changes is to look for bigger venues like gyms or covered court for the voting period, adding more precincts, and even extending voting hours.