Voter registration for 2022 polls to resume on Jan. 20 —Comelec

Robie de Guzman   •   January 10, 2020   •   796

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) announced on Friday that the voter registration for the 2022 national and elections will resume on January 20.

“Applications for registration, transfer of registration records, change/correction of entries in the registration record, reactivation of registration record, and reinstatement of name in the list of voters will be accepted,” Comelec said in a statement.

Persons with disabilities, senior citizens as well as members of indigenous peoples or indigenous cultural communities and other members of vulnerable sectors may also update their records during this period, it added.

Comelec 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.

The poll body also said in the same statement that no voter registration will be conducted in Palawan on May 11, 22 in view of the conduct of the plebiscite in the 23 municipalities of the province.

However, registration for the residents of Puerto Princesa City will resume on January 20, 2020.

“As per Resolution No. 10635, the Commission has decided to commence the resumption of voters this month instead of on July 5, 2020, in view of the postponement of the May 11, 2020 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections pursuant to Republic Act No. 8189,” Comelec said.

COMELEC has the power to postpone elections under certain circumstances —election law expert

Marje Pelayo   •   September 25, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Under specific circumstances, the Commission of Elections (COMELEC) has the authority or power to delay or postpone the conduct of an election.

This was clarified by election law expert Atty. George Erwin Garcia amid issues on a possible postponement of the 2022 national elections should the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic persist.

“COMELEC even has the power to postpone the elections or declare failure based on the Omnibus Election Code,” he added citing provisions of the law.

Section 5 of the Omnibus Election Code  states: When for any serious cause such as violence, terrorism, loss or destruction of election paraphernalia or records, force majeure, and other analogous causes of such a nature that the holding of a free, orderly and honest election should become impossible in any political subdivision, the Commission, motu proprio or upon a verified petition by any interested party, and after due notice and hearing, whereby all interested parties are afforded equal opportunity to be heard, shall postpone the election therein to a date which should be reasonably close to the date of the election not held, suspended or which resulted in a failure to elect but not later than thirty days after the cessation of the cause for such postponement or suspension of the election or failure to elect.

News of a possible postponement of the 2022 election came after Pampanga Representative Mikey Arroyo asked the poll body if it would consider such a move given that the country is currently facing a health crisis.

“No matter how prepared we are, it will cause a serious dent on our health situation. Would you consider it?,” he asked representatives from COMELEC during Congress’ hearing on the agency’s proposed budget on Thursday (September 24).

“Has the thought that you’ll propose to postpone elections, has that ever triggered in your minds?” the lawmaker further asked.

In response, COMELEC Commissioner Sheriff Abas said the postponement of election is beyond the agency’s responsibility.

“I think  wala sa call namin sa COMELEC iyan (I think that matter is not COMELEC’s call). It’s the call of both the chambers of the House and the president,” Abas said. 

Commenting on the issue, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin claimed that to cancel the election is an act of treason while former COMELEC commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal Sr.  said there is no reason to postpone the elections because other countries have been able to conduct it despite the challenges in the middle of the pandemic.

To clarify the matter, Atty. Garcia explained that the elections can be carried out before or after the second week of May as mandated by the Constitution as long as there is a law passed by the Congress.

“Pwede iyang ilipat sa ibang araw man lang o ibang linggo, pwede ngang ibang buwan ilipat (It can be postponed to a later date or week or even month). Bakit (Why)? Kasi ang nakalagay (because it says) ‘as may be provided by law,'” Garcia said.

“But it needs a constitutional amendment if the elections will be done beyond the elected officials’ term,” he added.

Garcia explained that by conducting an election outside or beyond the deadline or the term of office is therefore extending the term of office of the incumbent.

Such a case is prohibited or is not allowed by law, he said, because of what the law calls as hold-over capacity and fixed term of elected officials.

For now, Garcia said, what is important is for the Comelec to prepare for the elections and this includes voter registration. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

DBM slashes COMELEC’s proposed budget for 2021 by more than half

Marje Pelayo   •   September 25, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) is asking Congress to increase its budget for next year as it prepares ahead for the 2022 presidential election.

The poll body initially proposed a budget of almost P23.7 billion for next year, but this has been slashed by more than half.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) approved only P10.41 billion for COMELEC’s 2021 budget.

According to COMELEC Spokesperson Director James Jimenez, a huge portion of the slashed amount was intended for measures that will be adopted during the 2022 national elections amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

The COMELEC was planning to rent additional vote counting machines.

“Iyong gagawin namin sa present budget, kung iyan lang ang maibigay sa amin, is ire-refurbish namin (What we will do with the present budget — if that’s the only amount we have — is to refurbish),” COMELEC Chairman Sheriff Abas.

Around P65.4 million voters, an increase of 13.76 percent from last elections, are expected to vote in 2022.

“Kapag marami ang botante at nagsisiksikan sila sa isang makina, medyo unsafe iyan pagdating sa situwasyon natin ngayon na pandemya (If there is a huge voter turnout and everyone flocks to one machine, that’s unsafe given the current situation in this pandemic), ” explained COMELEC Spokesperson Director James Jimenez.

Based on COMELEC’s plan for the elections, the number of voters inside precincts would be reduced from 12 to 5 to maintain safe physical distance.

COMELEC is also mulling on holding the election for more than one day to reduce the number of voters coming to the venues.

The online filing of candidacy is also being considered.

Meanwhile, Agusan del Norte representative Lawrence Fortun is worried about the turnout in the 2022 elections if the poll body fails to convince Filipino voters that it is safe to go to polling precincts physically.

“If COMELEC cannot assure our voters of their safety, considering that electoral activities really draw large crowds, many might not be able to vote,” Fortun said,

The poll body is also waiting for election-related bills to address fears of virus transmission.

These include early voting for persons with disability and senior citizens, as well as voting via mail.

COMELEC also plans to apply the best practices in other countries who have held elections in the middle of the pandemic, such as South Korea.

There is also a bill that aims to push for hybrid elections.

However, COMELEC estimates that P50 billion to P60 billion will be needed for hybrid elections. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

Comelec reminds new voter registrants to observe protocols vs COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   August 31, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday reminded the public to strictly follow health and safety protocols against novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) during voter registration which is set to resume on Tuesday, September 1.

In an advisory, Comelec said application forms can be filed from Tuesdays to Saturdays, including holidays, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Office of the Election Officer (OEO).

Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez said there will be no satellite voter registration.

He also encouraged the public to download the application form from www.comelec.gov.ph and manually fill it out before going to the Comelec to register as a voter. They are also advised to bring their own pens.

He, however, said that registrants should only affix their signature at the form before the election officer at the Comelec office.

On the day of registration at the Comelec office, as a matter of procedure, registrants must observe the following:

  • Wear face mask and face shield;
  • Sanitize their hands and pass through the foot bath;
  • Accomplish the Health Declaration Form with their own pens;
  • Sign the application form using their own pens;
  • Sanitize their hands before and after using the signature pad and fingerprint scanner;
  • Take off their mask and shield only for photograph-taking during the capturing of biometrics data; and
  • Leave the COMELEC premises at once after the transaction.

The poll body also reiterated that a ‘no face mask and face shield, no entry’ policy will be implemented.

The number of registrants or transactions to be processed daily will also be limited, and physical distancing shall be observed.

Registrants will also be required to undergo body temperature check before entry, and to sanitize their hands and footwear.

“Daily disinfection of all OEOs will be undertaken to ensure safety at all times,” Jimenez said.

The nationwide voter registration for the May 2022 elections started on January 20, 2020 and will last until September 30, 2021.

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