Over 29,000 join local absentee voting

Aileen Cerrudo   •   April 29, 2019   •   925

Over 29,000 individuals participated in the local absentee voting for the 2019 Midterm Elections on Monday (April 29).

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) allows certain individuals to execute their right to vote before the election day on May 13.

According to Comelec Spokesman James Jimenez, these individuals are the ones who need to vote early to be able to perform their duties during elections.

“Ito iyong kaparaanan kung saan kung iyong mga kawani ng gobyerno, (This is the way in which members of the government) members of the military, members of the police, government officials who will be performing duties will be able to vote absentee,” he said.

Over 35,000 submitted their application for the Local Absentee Voting but only more than 29,000 were approved by the poll body.

Comelec expects 50% to 60% voting turnout in the local absentee voting.

“Ang voting turnout natin (Our voting turnout) for [the media] has, I think historically, hovered around 50%. For the rest of LAV medyo mataas naman ang ating voting turnout (Our voting turnout is a bit high) at around 50-60%,” Jimenez said.

For the local absentee voting, voters can only choose the national and the partylist groups. The counting of votes will also be done manually because there will be no vote counting machines to be used.

The ballots for the absentee voting will also be counted after the May 13 elections.—Aileen Cerrudo (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

Comelec suspends voter registration until March 31 due to COVID-19 threat

Robie de Guzman   •   March 10, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has suspended the voter registration until March 31 amid the rising number of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections in the country.

In a statement, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez announced that the suspension will begin on Tuesday, March 10.

“As a response to the growing threat to public health posed by COVID-19, voter registration has been suspended by the Comelec until the 31st of March 2020,” he said.

Jimenez said the suspension takes effect nationwide, encompassing voter registration conducted in all Comelec offices in districts, cities, and municipalities, as well as all satellite registration activities.

“The public is advised to take all necessary precautionary measures to limit their exposure to the possibility of COVID-19 infection,” he added.

The poll body opened the voter registration for the 2022 national elections last January. It was initially set to run until September 30, 2021.

As of posting time, the Philippines has 33 confirmed coronavirus cases.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier declared a public health emergency amid the rising cases of COVID-19 infections in the country.

The DOH also raised Code Red Sublevel 1 after confirming the country’s first case of coronavirus local transmission.

Gatchalian wants tax-free allowances for teachers on poll duty

Robie de Guzman   •   January 21, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Sherwin Gatchalian has urged his fellow lawmakers to expedite the passage of a bill seeking to grant tax exemption to the honoraria, transportation allowance and other benefits for public school teachers who will be on duty in the May 2022 elections.

In a statement, Gatchalian said that his measure, Senate Bill No. 1193, primarily introduces amendments to the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997 so teachers can receive the full amount of their honoraria and other benefits.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue started imposing five percent withholding tax on poll workers’ election service honoraria and other allowances since the 2018 barangay elections.

The lawmaker stressed that despite the continuous service that these poll workers render to ensure the transmission of results, they still have to pay income tax if their annual taxable income, which includes such honoraria and allowances, exceeds the P250,000 threshold under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law.

“Mahabang oras ang inilalaan ng mga guro upang siguruhin ang kaayusan at integridad ng ating mga halalan,” Gatchalian said.

“Kaya naman inihain natin itong panukalang batas na ito upang kilalanin ang kanilang mahalagang papel para pangalagaan ang ating demokrasya,” he added.

The bill also proposes to exclude teachers’ poll honoraria and allowances from gross income. Under the Election Service Reform Act (ESRA), chairpersons of electoral boards are each entitled to receive P6,000. Each member of electoral boards receive P5,000. Department of Education Supervisor Officials (DESO) receive P4,000 each while support staff receive P2,000 each.

A travel allowance of P1,000 is also allotted to each of these poll workers. The ESRA, though, has no provision for tax exemption.

Aside from the necessity of paying income tax despite the poll workers’ arduous work during elections, Gatchalian also lamented the process they have to go through to collect their pay.

To collect their election honoraria and benefits, poll workers have to go to the local Commission on Elections (COMELEC) offices and submit a declaration of exemptions if they earn less than P250,000 annually.

“Napapagod na nga ang ating mga guro tuwing halalan, kailangan pa nilang dumaan sa isang komplikadong proseso para makuha lang nila ang kanilang sahod at mga benepisyo. Kung hindi na papatawan ng buwis ang sahod at benepisyo ng mga guro tuwing halalan, hindi lang sila basta makakatanggap ng kabuuang bayad, mas mapapadali din ang proseso para sa COMELEC,” he said.

Gatchalian believes the proposed measure is the best way to thank teachers and other poll workers for ensuring clean, honest and orderly elections in the country.

Voter registration resumes Jan. 20, except in Taal-hit areas — Comelec

Robie de Guzman   •   January 17, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Friday announced that the voter registration for the 2022 presidential elections will resume nationwide on Monday, January 20, except in some areas in Batangas and Cavite that were affected by the ongoing eruption of Taal Volcano.

Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez said voter registration in municipalities and towns of Batangas located within the immediate danger zone and other areas surrounding the Taal Volcano will be suspended.

These places include:

  • Agoncillo
  • Alitagtag
  • Balete
  • Laurel
  • Lemery
  • Mataas na Kahoy
  • San Nicolas
  • San Teresita
  • Taal
  • Talisay

Voter registration will also be suspended in the following localities outside Taal zone but still affected by ashfall, earthquakes, impassable roads and power interruptions:

  • Balayan, Batangas
  • Cuenca, Batangas
  • Lian, Batangas
  • Mabini, Batangas
  • Mabini, Batangas
  • San Luis, Batangas
  • Tuy, Batangas
  • Tagaytay, Cavite
  • Alfonso, Cavite
  • Amadeo, Cavite
  • Indang, Cavite
  • Silang, Cavite

Jimenez said the resumption of the voter registration in areas affected by Taal Volcano unrest will be “contingent on the ability of those places to recover and return to normalcy.”

Taal Volcano remains under alert level 4, which signifies an imminent hazardous explosion, despite decreasing emissions. The volcano belched ash and smoke last Sunday, January 12, which sent thousands of residents scrambling to safety.

Aside from these areas, Comelec said the resumption of voter registration will also be deferred in Makilala, North Cotabato which was hit by a strong earthquake last December 2019.

Registration is also postponed in 24 municipalities in Palawan province to give way to the May 11, 2020 plebiscite on the proposal to split the province into three areas.

As for the rest of the country, the poll body said the application and updating of records will be done at the Office of the Election Officer from Mondays to Saturdays including holidays, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Applicants must be at least 18 years of age on or before election day or on May 9, 2022; a resident of the Philippines for at least one year; and must have lived in the place where he or she intends to vote for at least six months on or before election day.

The registration period will run until September 30, 2021, except on the following dates:

  • April 9, 2020 (Maundy Thursday)
  • April 10, 2020 (Good Friday)
  • December 25, 2020 (Christmas Day)
  • April 1, 2021 (Maundy Thursday)
  • April 2, 2021 (Good Friday)

Comelec also said that registered voters as of May 13, 2019 midterm elections need not apply anew.

REACH US

The Philippine Broadcast Hub

UNTV, 915 Barangay Philam,

EDSA, Quezon City M.M. 1104

(+632) 8396-8688 (Tel)

info@untv-newsandrescue.com (General inquiries)

ABOUT UNTV

UNTV is a major TV broadcast network with 24-hour programming. An Ultra High Frequency station with strong brand content that appeal to everyone, UNTV is one of the most trusted and successful Philippine networks that guarantees wholesome and quality viewing experience.