Jul 302013
Long lines in the registration for barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections? It’s all “hakot,” according to poll commissioner Grace Padaca.

“Na-o-obserbahan namin na maraming hakot lang na pinapatransfer lang ng mga kandidato ng barangay. Sila ang nakakapagdagdag sa pila,” Padaca said in a phone interview with GMA News Online.

By “hakot,” the poll commissioner was referring to the usual practice by politicians of renting a vehicle and then bringing residents to register for the elections. The practice is also done during election day.

The 10-day registration for the village polls started July 22 and will end July 31. Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. earlier said there will be no extension of the deadline.

At the Comelec office in Manila, the registration seemed like a stampede as registrants shoved against each other and lines were abandoned, according to a report on “24 Oras.” An election officer in the Quezon City Comelec office even shouted at the irate registrants: “Huwag kayo magtulakan!”

The situation was worse in the Comelec office in Iloilo City: some registrants fainted while waiting in line and had to be brought to the hospital.

The over-all scenario was similar to the last day of registration for the May 2013 elections—the usual long lines of registrants screaming for the doors of Comelec offices to open.

A certain Leonard Francisco, interviewed on GMA News’ “Quick Response Team,” lamented the disorganized registration process for the village polls.

“Sobrang gulo po ng proseso sa loob ng Comelec.Hindi maganda, hindi maayos kung mag-accommodate sila ng tao,” said Francisco, who has lined up since Monday at Comelec Manila but has not yet finished registering.

But it seems like Francisco is also a member of the “hakot” system: he said he has with 20 members of his barangay who have already registered for the village polls.

“Pipilitin ulet namin, sisikapin na maparehistro ang mga nasa barangay namin. Simula Monday, mga 15 to 20 pa lang po napa-rehistro namin,” Francisco said.

Padaca said they will not allow registrants to use police and barangay clearances as identification cards for registrants.

“Baka kasi ma-pulitika, these clearances are issued by people in the barangays,” Padaca said.

For his part, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said registrants with incomplete requirements or those not following the election officers’ (EO) orders may have contributed to the prolonged waiting time for registration.

“‘Yung dami ng mga tao ngayon ay katumbas na halos ng tao nung deadline ng nakalipas na registration… Kapag mali-mali ang requirement o kaya di sumusunod sa instructions ng EO, talagang hahaba ang paghihintay nila,” said Jimenez in an interview on “Quick Response Team.”

Jimenez said voters should bring government-issued IDs like drivers license and passports, as well as school IDs or company IDs.

He appealed for the public’s patience during the registration.

“Ikinalulungkot namin na wala kaming mai-a-announce na extension ngayon.So konting tiis muna ngayon,” Jimenez said.

He also asked the public to give priority to senior citizens and persons with disabilities.

“May mga nakukuha tayong report na hindi pinapadaan ‘yung mga senior citizens, ‘yung iba nababalya pa. Huwag naman ganun, let’s keep discipline kahit nakapila po tayo,” Jimenez said.

The Comelec, in Resolution No. 9750, ruled that priority must go to not just senior citizens, PWDs and pregnant women, but also first-time registrants who are 18 years old on or before the October 28 village polls.

Comelec is expecting at least 740,000 voters to register for the barangay elections and about two million voters for the SK.

An applicant for the barangay polls must be a Filipino citizen, at least 18 years old or older on election day, a resident of the Philippines for at least one year before election day, a resident of the place where he intends to vote for at least six months immediately prior to election day, and not disqualified by law.
For the youth polls, the registrant should also be a Filipino citizen, at least 15 years old but less than 18 years old on election day, residing in the barangay for at least six months on election day, and not otherwise disqualified by law.
The village and SK polls will be held on October 28. — BM, GMA News

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