Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Comelec Office, closed on a weekday

Posting an email from Ralph Reuben Morales of the Ayala Foundation, Inc.:
I was so happy that the top management of our company has been very supportive of the ongoing campaign of Ayala Young Leaders Alliance advocating voters' registration. We, the employees are entitled for one-day leave just to make sure that we are registered in our local COMELEC office.

The COMELEC website has a feature of checking whether an individual is registered or not. I found out that I am still registered though I have no records for my biometrics. After office hours yesterday, I immediately proceed to the bus station for an eight-hour trip to Mulanay, Quezon Province where I am registered. Aside from seeing my parents whom I have not seen for months, I was so excited for the trip to have my biometrics captured and claim my voters ID which I have been waiting for, for the past elections.

Upon arriving at the local COMELEC office at around 10:00 in the morning, all my excitement faded upon seeing that the said office is padlocked. My temper escalated upon seeing the long lines of equally excited youngsters whom I assume are first time voters. Some were even wearing their PE t-shirts of some Manila schools. What I was not surprised is that most of them are like me who intend to maximize their long vacation and placing their registration among their to-do list.

The COMELEC en banc released a resolution stating that their local offices should be open during Saturdays and holidays. Today is Wednesday and apparently not a holiday yet. Since no one was around to check if the office will still open, I rushed to the office beside COMELEC to inquire. Only to know the worst - the said office is closed
since yesterday.

I believe that all our efforts in the Ayala Young Leaders Alliance and Youth Vote Philippines should by all means be given equal effort and commitment from the COMELEC. What is it for those young men and women behind the advocacy of promoting voters registration only to be given this inattention from the very institution which should be the prime mover of citizen participation in the electoral process? What is to be expected from our campaign of getting as many youth as possible to register if our target individuals will only encounter padlocked COMELEC office with no single personnel around especially during the very rare chances that they can spare time to exercise their duties as citizens?

Do not blame the youth for being so-called apathetic. Apathy is a result of outright incompetence of most of our public servants. Among the youth, most of us are doing our share. It's just that more often than not, we do not receive the expected effectiveness from those in the bureaucracy.

Given the average turnout of registration, it will not be an astounding possibility to deprive hundreds of thousands if not millions of voters. The deadline for the registration is cut short from December 15 to October 31, 2009 in order to prepare for poll automation, as reported. Such directive poses the possibility of significantly decreasing the number of potential first time voters,unreasonable closing of COMELEC offices aggravates the saddening scenario.

In the 2007 senatorial elections, around 6.4 million potential voters were not registered. This number has significantly increased for the 2010 presidential elections.

We can recall the outcome of the past elections where the winners of national elective positions have a margin of less than a million. Assuming without conceding that there were no (massive) cheating, imagine the difference that the votes of those who were unable to register could have affected the final tallies. Bottomline – the
impact of the evident disregard of this very office to their mandate definitely affect the outcome of the elections and the impression of the public of the worth of exercising their rights and duties as citizens.

We appeal for immediate actions from the Commission on Elections. No more excuses please. We are all tired to hear the seemingly endless explanations trying to sew the loopholes in the systems the same commission are implementing. We are doing giving our contributions. We, the public, deserve no less.