Brillantes warns politicians: Don’t pull a fast oneBy Jocelyn R. Uy
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Haunted by the ghost of schemes he pulled off in the past, Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. on Friday dissuaded politicians and their lawyers from trying the same tricks on him as the voter registration deadline drew near.
Brillantes said the Comelec would be keeping an eye on hakot (bused-in) registrants brought in by politicians to add to the chaos that usually attend the last day of voter registration in Comelec offices nationwide.
Voter registration for the 2013 midterm elections will end on Oct. 31 at 5 p.m. Voters who have yet to register can still go to the Comelec offices in their areas on Saturday and on Monday until Wednesday.
Brillantes admitted that when he was still a practicing election lawyer, he and his clients would resort to the same “gimmick” so other legitimate voters would not be able to register.
“On the last day, we would cause a stir in election offices. We would bring in registrants-supporters of a politician so the others won’t be able to register,” he recalled.
“Our politicians bring many registrants to precincts on the last day to preclude the other legitimate voters. This is just one scheme I know,” he told reporters in an interview.
But he warned his former colleagues and politicians not to pull the same trick on him. “Just a warning, please don’t do it anymore. Don’t do it to me,” he said.
48-M registered so far
“We will be watching them as well as those who are bringing in supporters as registrants … maybe it will minimize any additional illegitimate voters,” added Brillantes.
As of Friday, a total of 48 million Filipinos nationwide have already enlisted for the coming midterm elections. But Brillantes said the poll body was expecting five million more who would be trooping to election offices in the last four days of registration.
The Comelec chair visited election offices in Quezon City, Manila and Makati City Friday to check on the conduct of voters’ registration.
At the Quezon City Hall compound, people queued even if it was a holiday to make sure they get into the voters’ list.
“The chief complaint is the long lines. But we’ve been constantly reminding people not to wait until the last minute to register,” Brillantes told reporters.
The Comelec will not be extending the registration for latecomers, he said.
“Some of the people I’ve talked to really set aside this day to register,” Brillantes said. “Do not blame us if you don’t get to vote.”
On his Twitter account Friday, he said those who have let two years pass without dropping by the Comelec to enlist should be “reasonable” with their expectations, especially when registering at the last minute.
Responding to complaints about supposed rude election officers and “disorganized” registration procedures on Twitter, Brillantes said the public must know that the Comelec only has two to three employees per office handling about 500 last-minute registrants a day.
“Believe me, our election officers are trying their best,” he answered one complainant. “It (last-minute registration) has been anticipated but I don’t tolerate the ‘mañana (do it later) habit.’ We’ve been open for registration for too long—16 long months,” he added.
In reply to another complainant, Brillantes said, “Had you registered earlier, we could have accommodated you the way you want to be accommodated.” With a report from Julie M. Aurelio