Comelec opens Saturday voter registration in select areas
MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) opened its voter registration sites in select areas yesterday and will keep them available on two more Saturdays this month.
The Comelec said registration hours on Saturday will be from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. in Metro Manila; Alcala and San Quintin towns in Pangasinan province, Capas and Concepcion in Tarlac; Tarlac City; the whole Quezon province; Labo town in Camarines Norte; Castilla town in Sorsogon; the cities of Cebu and Mandaue on Cebu Island; and Lapu-Lapu City on Mactan Island.
The following areas will have voter registration on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Anda, Sto. Tomas and Sual in Pangasinan; Aringay, Balaoan and Caba in La Union; the whole Ilocos Sur province; and Balatan, Bula, Cabusao, Goa, Lagonoy, Libmanan, Magarao, Minalabac, Ragay, Sagñay, San Fernando, San Jose, Tigaon and Tinambac in Camarines Sur.
Meanwhile, two civil society groups have raised concerns over what they considered to be the continuing lack of guidelines on the use of the automated election system (AES) in the May 2022 polls.
In a statement issued on Saturday, Philip Juico, president and chair of the Network for Justice and Compassion (NJC), said his group and Tagapagtanggol ng Watawat Inc. (TNW) had asked the Comelec to address six major issues cited in a letter they sent to the poll body on Oct. 1.
First, they asked the Comelec to provide implementing rules and regulations (IRR) as mandated by Republic Act No. 8436, or the automated election system law.
“Comelec has issued many resolutions in the past without public consultations, which has resulted in errors and lapses in the implementation of the AES law and in subsequent amendments to earlier resolutions,” the groups said in the letter.
“All the confusion and delays and disputes would have been avoided if a holistic, comprehensive and consultative IRR … had been issued and followed in the conduct of automated elections,” they added.
Online tally board
Second, they urged the Comelec to address the lack of transparency in the counting of ballots despite the issuance of the voter verification paper audit trail (VVPAT).
They said, “the existing system only shows that the VVPAT registers the votes of voters but it does not guarantee that the votes of the candidates in the VVPAT receipt are actually counted.”
They suggested that the Comelec introduce an online tally board per precinct.
‘Integrity and transparency’
As to their third issue, the NJC and TNW said they should be immediately allowed to conduct tests on the random manual audit (RMA), as required by law, in which manual and automated vote counts are compared in randomly chosen voting precincts.
“The RMA should be done publicly to ensure … a true random selection,” the groups stressed.
Fourth, they said it was still “not clear” what communication channels and authentication and codification procedures would be used for the transmission of votes.
The Comelec should consider giving all parties monitoring the elections access to its system logs, “to guarantee [the] integrity and transparency of transmission of results from the precincts up to the National Board of Canvassers,” they said.
Fifth, they said that as an added layer of security public school teachers should be allowed to choose their “private keys” or digital signatures, similar to how bank clients have control over their personal identification numbers (PINs).
Finally, NJC and TNW urged the Comelec to design a “continuity plan” for its transparency server and other processing servers.
“The lack of a continuity plan for servers creates a huge gap or disruption in the voting process chain,” they said.
They noted that so far only the vote-counting machines and Consolidation and Canvassing System have contingency systems in place.
The two groups said they were still awaiting a reply from the Comelec, which also did not respond to the Inquirer’s request for comment on Saturday.
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