WITH less than eight months left before the September 30 deadline, the Senate can help the Commission on Elections (Comelec) craft guidelines for the conduct of the 2022 elections in the time of the Covid-19 pandemic, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said Friday.
In Senate Resolution 639, Pangilinan asked that the Senate Committee on Electoral Reforms and People’s Participation conduct an inquiry on the slow progress of voters’ registration and the preparedness of Comelec to conduct the 2022 national and local elections during the pandemic.
“While elections are in May 2022, many of the preparations like the voters’ registration are already happening. Because choosing leaders through elections is integral to democracy, we need to know the problems Comelec is encountering now,” Pangilinan said.
“Yung makina at proseso na magsasabi kung ano ang direksyon ng Pilipinas ay nakasalalay sa Comelec. Makakatulong ang isang public hearing para kumpunihin ang makinang kailangang umandar habang may pandemya,” he added.
In SR 639, Pangilinan pointed out the Comelec report that it is lagging behind its target of registering 4 million new voters.
He joins Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon in encouraging everyone, especially the youth, to register. He also called for deactivated voters to participate again in the coming 2022 elections.
Comelec deactivated around seven million voters due to non-participation in two consecutive elections. Out of the seven million voters, only around 700,000 individuals have reactivated their records at the Comelec.
“Gamitin natin ang ating kapangyarihang baguhin ang takbo ng ating kapalaran bilang bansa. Gamitin natin ang ating karapatang bumoto. Let our voices be heard. Kung nais natin mabago ang bansa, umpisahan natin ito sa pag-rehistro at pagboto,” Pangilinan said.
“Kung sabi nila, hindi natin maaring piliin ang bakuna na ibibigay sa atin, maari naman nating piliin ang ating mga lider sa 2022. Pwede tayong maging choosy lalo na pag dating sa ating gobyerno,” he added.
Quarantine restrictions, limited transportation, and the public’s fear of the Covid-19 virus have been major factors in the slow and low turnout in voters’ registration. The Comelec has been implementing measure on how to conduct the registration with the health and safety of the public as the priority.
“Kailangan malaman ng taong-bayan kung paano tayo makakaboto sa ilalim ng ‘new normal’ kaya nais nating makausap ang Comelec kung paano ba nila pinaghahandaan ang darating na eleksyon,” Pangilinan said.
As of February 3, 2021, Comelec said that it only received about 1.3 million voter applications or only 32.5% of its target of four million new voters before the September 30, 2021 deadline.