COMELEC Office Closed on a Weekday

April 8, 2009

Sharing this post from Ralph of AYLA… kindly pass and also give feedback, reports if similar incidents are happening in your areas this summer. So we can see how to best address such unfortunate incidents. Lets get the youth and young professionals to register this summer. Thanks much. -Tanya

“I was so happy that the top management of our company has been very
supportive of the ongoing campaign of Ayala Young Leaders Alliance
advocating voters’ registration. We, the employees are entitled for
one-day leave just to make sure that we are registered in our local
COMELEC office.”

“The COMELEC website has a feature of checking whether an individual is
registered or not. I found out that I am still registered though I
have no records for my biometrics. After office hours yesterday, I
immediately proceed to the bus station for an eight-hour trip to
Mulanay, Quezon Province where I am registered. Aside from seeing my
parents whom I have not seen for months, I was so excited for the trip
to have my biometrics captured and claim my voters ID which I have
been waiting for, for the past elections.”

“Upon arriving at the local COMELEC office at around 10:00 in the
morning, all my excitement faded upon seeing that the said office is
padlocked. My temper escalated upon seeing the long lines of equally
excited youngsters whom I assume are first time voters. Some were even
wearing their PE t-shirts of some Manila schools. What I was not
surprised is that most of them are like me who intend to maximize
their long vacation and placing their registration among their to-do
list.”

“The COMELEC en banc released a resolution stating that their local
offices should be open during Saturdays and holidays. Today is
Wednesday and apparently not a holiday yet. Since no one was around to
check if the office will still open, I rushed to the office beside
COMELEC to inquire. Only to know the worst – the said office is closed
since yesterday.”

“I believe that all our efforts in the Ayala Young Leaders Alliance and
Youth Vote Philippines should by all means be given equal effort and
commitment from the COMELEC. What is it for those young men and women
behind the advocacy of promoting voters registration only to be given
this inattention from the very institution which should be the prime
mover of citizen participation in the electoral process? What is to be
expected from our campaign of getting as many youth as possible to
register if our target individuals will only encounter padlocked
COMELEC office with no single personnel around especially during the
very rare chances that they can spare time to exercise their duties as
citizens?”

“Do not blame the youth for being so-called apathetic. Apathy is a
result of outright incompetence of most of our public servants. Among
the youth, most of us are doing our share. It’s just that more often
than not, we do not receive the expected effectiveness from those in
the bureaucracy.”

“Given the average turnout of registration, it will not be an
astounding possibility to deprive hundreds of thousands if not
millions of voters. The deadline for the registration is cut short
from December 15 to October 31, 2009 in order to prepare for poll
automation, as reported. Such directive poses the possibility of
significantly decreasing the number of potential first time voters,
unreasonable closing of COMELEC offices aggravates the saddening
scenario.”

“In the 2007 senatorial elections, around 6.4 million potential voters
were not registered. This number has significantly increased for the
2010 presidential elections.”

“We can recall the outcome of the past elections where the winners of
national elective positions have a margin of less than a million.
Assuming without conceding that there were no (massive) cheating,
imagine the difference that the votes of those who were unable to
register could have affected the final tallies. Bottomline – the
impact of the evident disregard of this very office to their mandate
definitely affect the outcome of the elections and the impression of
the public of the worth of exercising their rights and duties as
citizens.”

We appeal for immediate actions from the Commission on Elections. No
more excuses please. We are all tired to hear the seemingly endless
explanations trying to sew the loopholes in the systems the same
commission are implementing. We are doing giving our contributions.
We, the public, deserve no less
.

Ralph Reuben C. Morales
Ayala Young Leader batch 2004
Senior Development Specialist
AYLC Alumni and External Affairs
Youth Leadership Development Unit

Ayala Foundation, Inc.
10/F BPI Main Building, 6768 Ayala Avenue
corner Paseo de Roxas, Makati City

Email ralph.morales@ayalayoungleaders.ph |
Web http://www.ayalayoungleaders.ph

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Summer Registration Festivale!

March 17, 2009

The temperature outside my window has officially declared summer to be here. The past weeks have gamely ushered in the gaiety and colors of Philippine fiesta season. Just recently I braved the crowds in my hometown to watch the Panagbenga street and float parade. Something I avoid yearly out of sheer pity for the carrying capacity of my city. But the mood and the exuberance was all it was hyped up to be. The beauty of Baguiio, the commercialism and the floats… well that will be for another article… less exuberant than this.

We have an uncertain year ahead of us. Jobs will be cut, relatives will come home from overseas postings that have ended, costs of education will rise in the new school year and we will be forced to tighten our belts. We may forget these in the weeks of festivities ahead… but perhaps in the midst of these festivities there is a way we could reaffirm our stake in our future…

We are a people of movement. Give us a beat and we will sway, we will bob our heads, we will dance. Give us a stage and we will perform, we will shine… heck we will even build our own stage. Give us a song and we will render it in as many versions as we have islands in this nation of happiness.

Pretty soon, school will be out, young (and not so young) Filipinos will head home to our provinces. For vacation, for summer work, to visit our families, to escape the city for a while, or simply to go home. The festivals will welcome us, the beats will resonate and the cheers and songs will fill the summer air. It is in this exuberance that we hope all young Filipinos bring one message home… We have to register to vote in May 2010.

The COMELEC has cut the registration period to October 31, 2009 from Dec 15. This means students and young working Filipinos will not have another chance to go home to their provinces to register after this summer. Not sem break not Christmas. This is it. This has to be our Festival!

The steps are simple enough… 1) invite your friends, barkada and neighbors from the same voting district. 2) download the 4-page registration form from the COMELEC Blogsite or the official COMELEC site. 3) fill up the forms but do not sign yet or put your thumbmark (you need to do this in front of the Election Officer). 4) Go to your local COMELEC any day from Monday to Saturday and holidays from 8am to 5pm (or to announced satellite mobile registrations in schools and barangays) and submit the forms with a valid ID for validation. 5) Have your photo, fingerprints and signature taken by the data capturing machines (DCMs) 6) get your receipt to claim your voter’s ID 7) HAVE FUN!!!

For those who would want to organize satellite registration centers, registration awareness activities and summer gimmicks to encourage the youth to register, get in touch with us through this site, through YouthVotePhilippines, or through email at yvotephilippines@gmail.com and we will gladly link you up with other youth groups in your area. Celebrate summer! Celebrate with your kababatas and kababayans! and lets all make this a SUMMER REGISTRATION FESTIVAL to remember.


YVote news release in support of Task Force 2010 press conference (December 9, 2008)

December 9, 2008

Youth groups support call for electoral reform;
push for improved electoral processes through Web-based technology

The reform-oriented youth network, YouthVotePhilippines (YVote), expressed strong support for the call of civil society groups to push for urgent electoral reforms.

In a press conference held at Intramuros, YVote members joined Task Force 2010 in calling for the general registration of voters, the cleansing of the voters’ list, the enhancements of voters’ education and information campaigns on registration, and the full implementation of the automated election systems project.

“We, the members of Task Force 2010, will not stand idly by while the general welfare is sacrificed and our political institutions, including popular sovereignty through regular elections, are thoroughly undermined. We firmly believe that Congress and our political leaders should focus on more urgent concerns like electoral reforms rather than self-serving so-called ‘systemic changes’,” the group said in a statement.

“As a network… we have decided to unite together in the spirit of EDSA and push for genuine electoral reforms. Anchored on the fundamental tenet that the people are sovereign, Task Force 2010 hopes to mobilize each and every Filipino who loves this country to register and vote, in order to proactively partake in safeguarding our democracy.”

This event comes at the heels of a series of events that YVote held in Cebu, Davao, and Metro Manila between November 27 and December 7 to encourage the country’s over six million first-time voters to register for the May 2010 elections.

Improved voter registration process

Continuing voter registration resumed on December 2, 2008 under Commission on Election (COMELEC) Resolution No. 8514. An excerpt reads: “Applications for registration, transfer of registration records, reactivation and changes/corrections of entries in the registration records/inclusion of registration records/reinstatement of name in the list of voters, shall be personally filed beginning December 2, 2008 to December 15, 2009 at the Office of the Election Officer (OEO) of the district/city/municipality where the applicant resides from Monday to Friday, during regular office hours at 8:00 o’clock AM to 5:00 o’clock PM.”

YVote core member Mildred Ople, who actively lobbied at the COMELEC for the resumption of continuing voter registration, pointed out significant improvements in the voter registration process that have been suggested by YVote.

“YVote strongly recommended that COMELEC upload its registration form on the COMELEC website to enable registrants to obtain copies of the form and fill them out even before heading to the COMELEC office to register,” Ople pointed out. “This makes the process a little bit easier, and is articulated under Section 8 of Resolution 8514.”

As of this writing, COMELEC’s website, www.comelec.gov.ph, already houses the said electronic copies of the registration form. Applicants are expected to print out this form, accomplish it in three (3) copies, and bring to the COMELEC office for signing and thumbmarking in the presence of an election officer.

“YVote also suggested that COMELEC establish Satellite Offices to accommodate more registrants. This is articulated in Section Four of the said resolution,” Ople added.

Increased pressure, greater support

The group initially expressed grave concern over delays in re-opening voter registration, which was initially slated for November 3.

In a letter to COMELEC Commissioner Rene Sarmiento, YVote reiterated that young Filipinos would be a significant force in the 2010 elections. The group signed a petition outlining four (4) possible areas where it can help the COMELEC address some limitations of the registration process for students and young professionals who live and vote in separate places.

These include: the utilization of schools in COMELEC’s information campaign, expansion of the availability of registration materials to schools and the Internet, the setting up of satellite registration centers or field mobile registration units, and the assignment of additional special registration days each first Saturday of the month.

In return for COMELEC support, YVote committed to mobilize member student councils, organizations, and individuals in schools and through online social networking groups to volunteer in these various activities. The group further committed to help make information and education materials youth-appropriate and exciting and to immediately bring these to a wide number of youth through its networks and partners.

At an event signifying the resumption of continuing voter registration, held at the University of Santo Tomas campus in Manila, YVote Lead Convenor Ching Jorge recognized efforts by “senior groups” to ensure that young Filipinos are given a voice in 2010.

“YVote and its partners in the youth movement look forward to open and facilitative coordination with COMELEC towards the electoral empowerment of Filipino youth,” she stated. “While we are still pushing for certain electoral reforms to be put in place—such as election automation using more transparent, efficient methods—we are thankful that our elders were open enough to accept our recommendations for the voter registration process. In the end, this is about giving young Filipinos a voice, and we welcome the many converging efforts to ensure that Filipino youth are empowered to elect their president in 2010.”

Aside from voter registration, YVote and its network partners are gearing up for the roll out of its program’s other components: on-the-ground voters’ education, an online portal for comprehensive candidate information; and the development of a youth agenda framed on the eight Millennium Development Goals.

A network representing groups from various sides of the youth movement, YVote’s core members include:  the Ayala Young Leaders Alliance, Akbayan Youth, First Time Voters Project, Student Council Alliance of the Philippines, Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations, the WhyNot? Forum, Youth Alliance Philippines, and Young Public Servants.


Cebu youth groups volunteer poll registration assistance

December 1, 2008

By CARINE M. ASUTILLA | ABS-CBN Central Visayas | 12/01/2008 7:38 PM

CEBU CITY – Different youth groups, community and school-based organizations gathered Monday to express their intention to assist the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in encouraging first-time voters to register for the 2010 elections.

The groups were led by YouthVotePhilippines and First Time Voters Project. Voters registration starts Tuesday.

The groups admitted that it would be a challenge for them to encourage 18-years old and first-time voters to take part for the national elections.

Ailee Tejano, project director, said that they will start their campaign by accompanying first-time voters to register on the opening date.

Tejano said that they will also launch concerts around Cebu to convince the youth to register. A voters’ education program will also be conducted in barangays.

On May 10, 2010, they vowed to organize watch groups to different voting precincts to ensure honest and clean elections.

Ernie Edralin, Akbayan-Central Visayas spokesperson, said that they will also ask the Comelec to create satellite registration offices in northern Cebu for the convenience of the youth who cannot come to the city to register.

They will also provide a Web site for the youth where they can check the background of their candidates to help them decide who to vote. Intensive information drive will also be conducted, they said.

The Comelec said it projects that there will be 4.5 million first time voters around the country especially coming from out-of-school youths.

The groups said that such number of votes is crucial especially in electing the next president.

The National Statistics Office listed six million first-time voters disenfranchised in the 2007 elections, two million in 2004 and five million in the 2001 elections. The groups said they want to ensure that no such revocation of right to suffrage would happen again.

The groups also clarified that they would not support or endorse any politicians.

The registration for this year will end on December 19, it will resume next year


First Time Voters release petition to COMELEC

November 11, 2008

23 September 2008

The Honorable Commissioners of the

Commission on Elections

Through: Hon. Jose A.R. Melo

Chairman

Re: Urgent proposals for youth voters’ registration

Honorable Commissioners:

The First Time Voters (FTV, for brevity) Project is a conglomeration of youth and student organizations with the common goal of appraising the political participation and consciousness of first time voters through voters’ education. Since its inception, it has initiated campaigns and activities in line with this thrust.

The organization, among others, upholds the right of the people to register as a precondition to the exercise of the constitutional right to suffrage. Being the initial step in the exercise thereof, adequate information on the process of registration should be made accessible to the public. Also, the process itself shall be made convenient so as to attract participation from a wider base. However in past elections, there were not a few reported cases of disenfranchisement of youth and first time voters because of the limitations in the past registration processes.

According to the NSO 2000 Census-based Populations Projection, there will be 33.4 million voters in 2010; 6 million of which are first time voters. In the face of the National Elections in 2010, we anticipate that more youth would be able to participate if the proper bodies would put premium to the issues of information dissemination or lack thereof and accessibility to the registration process itself.

It is in this context that we, in the FTV Project propose to bolster the accessibility of the 2010 national elections through the utilization of schools in the information campaign, expansion of the availability of registration materials, and the setting up of satellite registration centers. We elaborate on these points as follows:

  1. COMELEC to utilize schools in information campaign

The age range of first time voters for 2010 is 16 to 20 years old. Those belonging to this age group spend most of their time in their respective schools, thus their maximum exposure therein. It is in this belief that the FTV moves to channel information drive through these establishments. This will be done through directives from government bodies such as the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education. Flowcharts of the registration process and related materials shall be provided to the schools for the perusal of their students.

  1. COMELEC to expand the availability of registration materials

The COMELEC, as the chief implementing arm of election laws, should be at the forefront of promoting the exercise of the right of suffrage as incumbent on all Filipino citizens. We propose that registration forms should be made available thru avenues that are easily accessed by the youth such as schools and community centers. Also, the COMELEC should make available downloadable registration forms via the internet through the COMELEC website or other related links.

  1. Set up satellite registration centers or field mobile registration units.

It is a declared State policy to systematize the present method of registration in order to establish among others, a clean and updated list of voters (Sec. 2 R.A. No. 8189 “The Voters’ Registration Act of 1996). In order to attain this, a mechanism should be devised in order to allow a maximum number of voters to be able to register. A number of youth are not able to register because they are not based in their places of domicile on account of studies or employment.

This is a reality that prompts the FTV to propose the establishment of satellite registration centers in schools, community centers, and other accessible areas. For areas where a satellite center is not feasible, mobile registration units may be fielded accompanied by accredited COMELEC officials. Given that the COMELEC has already started with the computerization of registration, transfer of information from one COMELEC access point to another would entail minimal cost. In return, enfranchisement of youth voters will be upheld.

  1. Assign additional special registration days

Students, who comprise the majority of first time voters are prevented from registering by their being away from their places of residence on account of their studies. Young professionals likewise are hindered by their location of employment or by the fact that registration is conducted during office hours. It is in this line that FTV proposes the assignment of additional special registration days every first Saturday of the month. With this move, COMELEC will further assure the enfranchisement of youth voters.

The upcoming 2010 National Elections presents our country with another pivotal point in our conflict-ridden history. The next set of national leaders would greatly determine the course of our economy, our politics, and our morality in these hard times. It becomes imperative therefore for the COMELEC to take proactive and essential steps to promote youth enfranchisement in our electoral process. The COMELEC should help to create the enabling conditions for the effective and informed exercise by the youth of their sovereign right to vote. We submit that the above propositions are but reasonable measures that in the end would empower the youth today.

In return, FTV in alliance with Task Force 2010 (TF2010) and YouthVotePhilippines commits to assist and facilitate youth participation to help COMELEC achieve these proposals.

  1. Youth councils and organizations in FTV, TF2010 and YouthVotePhilippines network schools will provide volunteers to do the information drive, organize fora or symposia on election processes. The youth volunteers will likewise help make the information campaign friendly and appropriate to youth voters.

  2. The aformentioned member networks of FTV will place links on their websites, blogs and social networking sites to the uploaded registration form that COMELEC will make available. Distribution of the actual registration forms can be done by FTV and its networks in the schools where they are based. These efforts will broaden the access of Youth Voters and shorten the time it will take for the actual registration process.

  3. In areas where FTV and its networks have strong and responsive first time voters, it will facilitate and invite the mobile registration units and help provide volunteers. The visit of these mobile registration units can be further enhanced by complementary information campaigns and voters education events.

  4. FTV and its networks will actively enjoin young professionals and students in a creative and youthful campaign to maximize the opportunities given by additional registration days.

Sincerely,

Paula Bianca Lapuz

Convenor

First Time Voters Network


Youth Participation Crucial in 2010 Polls

October 6, 2008

by Bianca Lapuz (Student Council Alliance of the Philippines)

Task Force 2010 (TF2010), a broad, multi-sectoral, electoral reform group, welcomed the coming together of different youth organizations in YouthVotePhilippines (YVote) as a major step towards creating a solid youth force for the May 2010 polls.

TF2010 is composed of various civil society organizations that are pushing for the cleansing of the voters’ list. They are also lobbying in  the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) for alternative mechanisms to make the registration process for first-time voters more accessible.

Recently, TF2010 had joined the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in advocating for a “right-based approach to the vulnerable sectors’ maximum participation in the next national elections.” The vulnerable sectors represent individuals who are susceptible to electoral disenfranchisement (i.e., first-time voters, internally displaced, migrant workers, differently-abled, detainees, senior citizens, indigenous peoples, etc.).

YouthVotePhilippines, the youth component of the coalition, is deemed crucial in the lobbying efforts for the first-time voters. One of its convenors, and a long-time advocate of electoral reforms, The First Time Voters’ Network (FTV),  has submitted a petition to the COMELEC for the following requests:

  1. To utilize schools in voters’ information campaigns;
  2. To expand the availability of registration materials (also including downloadable formats); and
  3. To set up satellite registration centers in schools, community centers, and other accessible areas for easier registration.

“The rest of the YVote convenors will also submit their rejoinder statements to COMELEC to strengthen the previous petition,” says Jessie Villabrille, FTV spokesperson, in a statement.

According to Mildred Ople, spokesperson of the Ayala Young Leaders Alliance, another YVote convenor, “So far, COMELEC has agreed to place the registration forms on their website, available for download, and to extend the registration days until Saturday for every first week of every month.”

“The role of YVote in Task Force 2010 will prove to be indispensable, as we all try to push for genuine electoral reforms in the upcoming polls. We join TF in its ardent pursuit of ensuring ZERO disenfranchisement in 2010,” declares Ching Jorge, lead convenor of YVote and Young Public Servants.

“2010 is looking at 9 million first-time voters and 30 million youth voters in general. This gives us enough reason to work hard from this day forward, because truly, the youth can elect the next president,” Jorge concludes.