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


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.


YVote news release on Dec 2 resumption of continuing registration

December 2, 2008

 

yvote-logo-red

Youth groups go full blast in promoting voter registration;

push for improved electoral processes through Web-based technology

A network of reform-oriented youth groups, under the banner YouthVotePhilippines (YVote), held a series of events in Cebu, Davao, and Metro Manila between November 27 and December 2 to encourage the country’s over six million first-time voters to register for the May 2010 elections.

 

Press briefings, media guestings, and a launch party were held from November 27 to 29 in Davao City. Present were representatives from YVote member groups Akbayan Youth and Ayala Young Leaders Alliance, as well as representatives from the Sangguniang Kabataan and local organizations Atty. Marlon Casquejo of the COMELEC in Davao was also present to support the event.

 

In Cebu City, a press conference was held on December 1, participated in by representatives from Akbayan Youth, TAYO Foundation, First Time Voters Project, Ayala Young Leaders Alliance, Sangguniang Kabataan, local organizations, out-of-school youth, and the National Youth Commission.

 

Improved voter registration process

Continuing voter registration was slated to resume 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, http://www.comelec.gov.ph, already housed 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.

 

 

__

Download the PDF file of the news release HERE


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


Youth Pulse #2: Should the SK be abolished?

November 3, 2008

The Sangguniang Kabataan (Youth Council of the Philippines) was ideally created to facilitate young people’s participation in actual, real-world governance. However, over the past few years, SK units had been plagued with severe criticisms due to their apparent inefficiency in performing their functions and their incapacity to surpass traditional politics. To resolve  this problem, two general proposals are filed in Congress at present: one to ABOLISH the SK and another to REFORM it. Which side are you on?

*This poll closes on Sunday, 9 November 2008*

Want to read up on the Sangguniang Kabataan? Here are some archived Web articles, blog posts, and online resources that we found:

Abolition of Sangguniang Kabataan sought (Senate.gov.ph – press release dated 13 April 2008)

Senate Bill No. 2155: SK Abolition act (Senate.gov.ph – filed 10 April 2008)

The Sunday Times report on SK abolition proposal (ManilaTimes.net – 25 November 2007)

National Confederation of Youth Advocates go for SK reform (NCYA.net – 30 October 2007)

Senate Bill No. 1478: Sangguniang Kabataan Reform Act of 2007 (Senate.gov.ph – filed on 21 August 2007)

SK National Federation on Multiply

WordPress blogs on the SK

Youth Pulse is a weekly poll that aims to find out what YOU think about key youth- and election-related issues.

If you have more things to say aside from the multiple-choice answers here, feel free to comment here, or email us at yvotephilippines@gmail.com and let us know if we can post your letter as a blog entry!

Want to receive more updates from YVote Buzz? Subscribe to our weekly newsletter HERE.


Amidst Mounting Calls for Abolition, SK Should Start Working Good!

November 3, 2008

Position Paper of the Youth and Students Sector of NAPC (NAPC YS) on SK Abolition

By MARLON CORNELIO, Chair, Youth Governance and Participation Committee

There have been persistent calls for the abolition of Sangguniang Kabataan. Most Recently, Sen. Aquilino Pimentel, the author of Local Government Code that reinvented SK form KB, has been in the fore by filling SB 2155 seeking the abolition of SK. In the 13th Congress, on the other hand, Sen. Pimentel filled SB 1126 which called for the reform of SK.

Abolish SK!

What are the arguments for SK abolition? One, SK is considered as a breeding ground of corrupt leaders. Two, SK officials are non-performing or has insignificant contribution to the community; most of their projects are building waiting sheds and signages, sports fests or paliga. Three, SK officials cannot perform their function as they have to attend schools (or SK officials have to cut schooling just to perform their functions). And four, they are just too young, easily corrupted and irresponsible.
Who are the proponents of SK Abolition? Federation of Student has released a manifesto calling for the abolition of SKs  claiming that SK officers discard school in exchange for salaries and perks offered by weekly city, municipal and provincial council sessions (Cabreza, 2007).  Mayors too, according to Mayor Ramon Guico, League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) president, are for abolition but “do not openly speak [about the issue] because of political reasons” (Sotelo-Fuertes, 2007). Sen. Pimentel has filled his SK abolition bill in the Senate. Several SK Abolition bills have also been filled in the House of Representatives.

Alternatives to SK

Given these arguments are sufficient to abolish SK, what are the alternatives? There are proposals for total abolition of SKs. These proposals argue that school council/government is a sufficient venue for the youth to participate in governance and train in becoming the future leaders of the land. On the other hand, other proposals still see the significance of youth participation in elections and “actual” governance. Thus, if SK is to be abolished there should be a replacement mechanism. Pimentel’s SB 2155 proposes for the election of youth councilors instead of the other proposals for mayors/governors to appoint them. This according to Pimentel would not give opportunity for politicking. Youth representative/councilor will be directly elected by their peers at the same time as the city mayors and councilors are elected.
The other side: SK reform.

Advocates of SK Reform do not dispute the observations posted by those calling for abolition. They too see that SKs are not performing; SK has become the breeding ground for new trapos; SK officials are in a dilemma between going to school or cutting schooling to perform their function. The difference lies in how to address these problems. They see these as very serious issues/concerns but not too the point that it merits abolition.

What are their rebuttals?

That the SK is a breeding ground for corruption means that the SK officials are not inherently corrupt. It points out to the fact that the environment to which the SK now is situated is the one’s causing the breeding of new trapos. The answer therefore is to clean up the environment and not abolish SK which is ideally a venue for on-the-job training for good governance and principled leadership for the Filipino youth at the grassroots level.

That the SKs are non-performing or has insignificant program/projects can be attributed to the lack of support and guidance they get from their elders. SK was not put up for the youth officials to live on their own. The SKs do not know their roles and responsibilities and neither do most of local government officials that limit SKs to beautification and sports projects. There are model SKs to talk of all over the country, both in rural and urban areas. What is common in these model SKs is the presence of guidance and support from the local government and non-governmental organizations.

SKs are definitely in dilemma of choosing between attending schools or council sessions. This problem sprout out after the Congress passed Republic Act 9164 in 2002, which reduced the age range of KK and SK eligible youth to 15 to below 18 from 21. This has amendment was made in the bicameral committee without prejudice to the age where which the youth are still in secondary schools. If elected SKs came from the age bracket of 18-22, SKs would have more control over their schedule and academic load.
Finally, those who belittle the young will have to read up more on the role of youth in our history and nation building. They will have to be refreshed on the International Rights of Children.

What should we do now?

There are many proposals to address the problems that the SKs are facing. In the 13th Congress, there where more than 5 bills both in the House of Representatives and Senate. These legislative remedies however proved to be arduous. While the battle for abolition for reform versus abolition was mainly in Congress, SK reform advocates failed to recognize that there are reforms that can be done which will dramatically change the bad face of SK on the ground. As the problems all point out, and as was found out in the national SK Study funded by UNICEF and spearheaded by DILG NBOO and NAPC Youth and Students Sector, the SKs need support and guidance for them to succeed. They need proper orientation on their functions and how to go about with them. They need trainings and capability/capacity building programs down at the grassroots level.

Unfortunately, these needs have never been met. Thus, the reasons for the calls for abolition remain and just gained momentum. The fight for long-lasting and institutionalized reform in Congress should continue but it should be coupled with actions on the ground.

The SKs can not wait for the legislative reforms. The SKs can not much more wait for it to be abolished and replaced. The newly elected SKs will be serving for 3 years. This opportunity should not go to waste. With this in view, NAPC Youth and Students Sector, along with its member youth organizations in the grassroots, is piloting capacity and capability training at the same hand working with partners in developing an SK Guidebook.

The only way for the SKs to stop the mounting calls for abolition, is for them to start working and working good, removing reasons for abolition one by one. And the SKs need support and guidance from their communities in doing so.