COMELEC office horror: or why I didn’t register to vote today
The push for new voters in the upcoming 2010 presidential elections has been in full swing, and for good reason: for many, there is a lot in stake in the upcoming polls, like it’s been in the past years. While registration has been more widely known unlike three years ago, things haven’t exactly gone smoothly. The following account is from Katrina Gomez, who talks about how inconsistent voters’ registration can be depending on where you are. Currently a student of the De La Salle University, she blogged about the last two Student Council elections here.
So today was supposed to be the day: voter’s registration. As in, I blocked off my calendar and all. I was told that all I needed were a valid ID and my voter’s registration form. So I brought my DLSU ID and my passport and the registration form being distributed at school. My mom and my sis did the same.
I didn’t count on the COMELEC office somehow thinking otherwise. Actually, I had a bad feeling upon entering the premises within the Makati fire station. The place looked like something straight out of Left for Dead: dark, twisting and nothing like the office of an institution seeking automation…
We were pointed towards this dirty, yellowing list of requirements taped on the wall. Okay, so apparently I needed proof of billing to “support” my student ID and my passport (telephone or water bill). Apparently, since my passport does not have my address, and my ID does not list it either (I study in Manila, not in Makati), I had to present the additional documents. Problems: I still live with my parents so of course the proofs of billing are not addressed to me. Either that or a birth certificate to prove my address.
The guard said we had to present photocopies of our IDs. Again, something I don’t ecall. So we had to go all the way downstairs to get the xerox done (at an unusually high price mind you!). Then we decided to go in to inquire about the entire procedure and the documents. Now the guy at the desk said that our forms wouldn’t do. We had to use their forms.
Okay, I would have let that slide were it not for the fact that I had seen photocopied forms being used in satellite registration elsewhere in the city.So does that mean that those people have their registrations jeopardized? And the forms I had with me were official COMELEC forms. If the forms at the desk were computer scannable, I’d understand the need to use them. But they weren’t.
Now the desk officer said that our IDs wouldn’t do since we needed proof of billing or our own postal addresses. Again, I’m a legal age dependent. My mother pointed that my sister and I are still students and therefore we don’t pay our own bills or have our own addresses. Then the election official backed down and said that all we had to do was prove that our parents were registered in the district, and to bring our birth certificates.
Now I don’t recall that being part of the voting requirements presented at school. And my experience does not go with the guidelines listed here:
Section 8. Application Forms for Registration (CEF-1A).
Application forms for Registration (CEF-1A) are available, free of charge, at the Office of the Election Officer, or may be downloaded from the COMELEC website, a sample of which is attached hereto as Annex “A” (CEF-1A – Application for Registration).
In the latter case, the applicant shall print the application form and accomplish the same in three (3) copies, to be signed and thumbmarked only in the presence of the EO.
Section 9. Procedure for filing of applications for registration.
a. The applicant shall personally appear before the EO, state his name and exact address, specifying the house number, name of street, area, district, purok or sitio, and barangay where he resides, or a brief description of his residence, and present any of the following current identification documents that bears applicant’s photograph and signature: (1) Employee’s identification card (ID) with the signature of the employer or authorized representative; (2) postal ID; (3) student’s ID or library card, signed by the school authority; (4) senior citizen’s ID; (5) driver’s license; (6) NBI/PNP clearance; (7) passport; (8) SSS/GSIS ID; (9) Integrated Bar of the Philippine (IBP) ID; (10) Llicense issued by the Professional Regulatory Commission (PRC); and (11) any other valid ID.
In the absence of any of the abovementioned identification documents, the applicant may be identified under oath by any registered voter of the precinct, or by any of his relatives within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity who are registered voters of the same city/municipality.
Community Tax Certificates (cedula) or certifications/identification cards issued by barangay officials shall not be honored as valid identification documents.
If the identity of the applicant cannot be established by any of the aforementioned methods, he shall not be issued an application form. In case of downloaded application forms, the same shall not be accepted.
b. The EO shall then verify from the National List of Registered Voters (NLRV) if the applicant’s name is found therein. If the applicant is found to be registered in the same city/municipality he shall be advised that he need not apply for registration. If he is found to be registered voter in another city/municipality, he shall be advised to apply for transfer for registration pursuant to Section 10 hereof.
c. If the applicant’s name is not included in the NLRV, the EO shall, using the barangay precinct map, verify whether or not the address given by the applicant is located within the territorial boundary of any of the precincts within the jurisdiction of the district/city/municipality.
If the applicant is not a resident, the EO shall advise the applicant to proceed to the OEO of the district/city/municipality where he resides.
If the applicant resides within the territorial jurisdiction of the district/city/municipality, the EO shall: (1) inform the applicant of the qualifications and disqualifications for registration; (2) determine the precinct where the applicant belongs by referring to the barangay precinct map. The applicant shall be assigned temporarily to the mother precinct comprising his residence. The precinct assignment shall be finalized after the approval of the application. Daughter precinct(s) shall be created to accommodate approved applicants in excess of the 200-voter per precinct limit. In case of boundary dispute, the EO shall maintain the status quo; (3) indicate the precinct assignment of the applicant at the upper right-hand portion of the application form; and (4) issue the prescribed application form in three copies.
d. Upon receipt of the application forms, the applicant shall personally accomplish the same separately in his own handwriting and submit the accomplished application forms to the EO. Titles such as reverend, datu, attorney, sultan, doctor, hadji, engineer, bai and others shall not be allowed.
e. If the applicant has a downloaded and duly-accomplished application form, it shall be signed and thumbmarked in the presence of the EO.
f. After ensuring that the application form has been filled up correctly, completely and legibly, the EO shall write the Application Form Number. The Application Form Number shall consist of four parts. The first two digits represent the province code, the second two digits represent the city/municipal code, the third two digits represent the Data Capture Machine (DCM) Number, and the last seven digits represent the control code starting after the last code number assigned.
g. The EO shall return the application form to the applicant and direct the applicant to proceed to the DCM Operator for data capturing.
The application form of an applicant who refuses to submit himself for the live capture of his biometrics data shall not be accepted and deemed not filed.
h. The DCM Operator shall proceed to capture the complete biometrics data of the applicant, affix his initial below the space provided for the EO’s signature in Part 2 of the application form and direct the latter to go back to the EO.
i. The EO shall: (1) administer the oath. The application form of an applicant who refuses to take the oath shall not be accepted and deemed not filed. (2) affix his signature in the appropriate space on the forms;. (3) retain the three copies; and (4) cut the bottom portion of the application form (copy for EO) and give it to the applicant to serve as Acknowledgment Receipt and proof of fact of filing of his application.
Right away, upon leaving the COMELEC office, my sister texted a friend of hers who registered in Paranaque. According to him, the only ID he needed was his school ID. So it seems that the procedures in different offices aren’t standard?
Something needs to be straightened out with the offices for the sake of our future voters.
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