Procrastination shows in voter registrationPhilippine Daily Inquirer
In what could be the best illustration of how procrastination afflicts many Filipinos, thousands of new voters tried to beat the registration deadline on Tuesday swamping election offices with work and prompting officials to ask in exasperation: Where have you been?
“The response of the people to our call to register is overwhelming, but their response is too late,” said Aimee Ferolino-Ampoloquio, election officer of Davao City.
The Comelec started registering new voters last year but thousands chose to wait until the deadline on Oct. 31 to list up.
“We have been waiting for you,” Ampoloquio was quoted as telling people waiting in line to register as new voters in Davao City.
In Davao alone, Ampoloquio said up to 700 new voters queued for registration per day. It peaked to 1,000 on the last day of the registration, she said.
The scene is no different elsewhere. In Cagayan de Oro City, hundreds of new voters queued outside the city tourism hall where Comelec holds office.
Lawyer Aleli Ramirez, Cagayan de Oro election officer, said the Comelec office there had been receiving 400 new voters per day since Oct. 8. The number ballooned to 1,000 on deadline day.
In the Visayas, late attempts to register also kept Comelec officials busy.
Among the thousands who registered on the day of the deadline was actress Ruffa Guttierez, who wants to cast her vote in Cebu where her mother, talent manager Annabelle Rama, is running for congressman.
Marchel Sarno, election officer of Cebu City’s north district, said Ruffa was accompanied by Annabelle. Ruffa’s father, actor Eddie Guttierez and younger brother John Rex, also registered in the district.
Ruffa’s brother, actor Richard, also registered in the district.
The lines were long at Comelec offices in the Visayas as early as 4 a.m. in the case of Bacolod City.
Sarno said the Comelec office in Cebu could attend to only 500 registrants per day.
In Iloilo City, according to election officer Jonathan Sayno, the Comelec office accommodated up to 1,500 registrants a day.
In Negros Occidental, the Philippine National Police had to send more policemen to secure Comelec offices in the province’s towns and cities because of a spike in the number of people who wanted to register, according to the province’s election supervisor, Jessie Suarez.
The number of voters in Negros Occidental could reach 1.5 million, Suarez said.
In Bacolod City, the Comelec had to hold the registration at the Bacolod Arts and Youth Center as queues stretched two blocks.
In Tacloban City, Rosemarie Polistico, the city election officer, said Comelec employees had been working beyond eight hours a day to accommodate new voters. The number of registered voters in the city alone could reach 100,000, Polistico said. The current number of voters in Tacloban is 98,120.
In Capiz, election officials project a 10-percent increase in the number of voters. The province currently has 432,555 voters.
In Luzon, the influx of people wanting to register as new voters has raised concern among politicians.
“This has not happened before. We are alarmed at the bloated number of registrants for this coming election. And this is a concern not only here, but in other parts of the province,” said Nerma Yap, mayor of Botolan town.
Elaisa Sabile-David, Zambales election supervisor, said many new voters were unable to present documents or proofs of identities but flying voters could be removed from the list through a vetting process by Comelec.
“Sometimes the problem is that, like in the case of the Aetas, they really don’t have much documents,” said David.
In the Cordillera, election officials said most new voters are youths on their semestral breaks.
Vanessa Roncal, assistant Comelec director in the Cordillera, said the number of youths registering as new voters could increase the number of voters in the region by 10 to 15 percent.
In Pangasinan, Remarque Ravanzo, Dagupan city election officer, reported an increase of registered voters this year with 93,566 as of Oct. 15. This was more than the 83,000 voters registered for the 2010 elections.
In the City of Malolos, poll officials observed increases in the number of voter applicants in the least populated towns.
Lawyer Elmo Duque, Bulacan election officer, said the town of Donya Remedios Trinidad, which has the smallest number of residents among 21 towns, has been getting 300 daily voter applicants.
In Pampanga, poll records show that Central Luzon averaged 600 registrants on the eve of the deadline of the registration on new voters.
“It’s very heavy,” said lawyer Emmanuel Ignacio, Comelec assistant regional director, on Tuesday.
Central Luzon might hit six million voters in the 2013 elections. The number of registered voters in the region for the May 10, 2010 polls reached 5.6 million.
Reports by Ayan Mellejor, Cai Panlilio, Frinston Lim, Inquirer Mindanao; Robert Gonzaga, Armand Galang, Tonette Orejas and Carmela Reyes-Estrope, Inquirer Central Luzon; Yolanda Sotelo and Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon; and Nestor Burgos Jr., Felipe Celino, Carla Gomez, Jhunnex Napallacan and Joey Gabieta, Inquirer Visayas