Individuals aged 18 to 21 years old and senior citizens who are eligible to vote in the 2022 polls may register as voters in Commission on Elections (Comelec) offices in their areas despite the ongoing quarantine protocols amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the poll body said on Wednesday.
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez made the announcement a day after voter registration resumed and incidents of eligible voters being turned away by Comelec officials were reported.
“Ang sinasabi po ni Atty. [Gregorio] Bonifacio, may limitasyon po sa mobility ng 21 years old pababa at senior citizens under IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) policy. Pero kapag ikaw ay nasa registration center na at kayo ay eligible to vote, makakapag-register po kayo,” Jimenez said in an interview on Dobol B sa News TV.
Bonifacio is Comelec’s election officer assigned in the National Capital Region.
“Kahit po may limitation sa mobility, kapag andu'n na kayo sa Comelec at eligible po kayo, kayo po ang parerehistrohin. Hindi po dahilan na bawal sila lumabas kaya hindi parerehistrohin kasi nasa labas na nga sila,” Jimenez added.
Jimenez, however, highly encouraged eligible voters to either secure an appointment for their registration or download and fill out the registration form accessible at www.comelec.gov.ph first before going to the Comelec office, considering the prevailing movement restrictions and prohibition on mass gathering amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The poll body also reminded eligible voters that the signature on the registration form must be affixed at the Comelec office in the presence of the election officer.
Registrants were also encouraged to bring their own pens.
“Iyong appointment system po natin ang ine-encourage. Puwede po silang tumawag sa landline o sa cellphone, mag message sa Facebook pages ng Comelec. Pero alam naman po natin na hindi lahat may kakahayan magpa-appointment kaya po encouragement lamang ito, hindi mandatory,” Jimenez said.
“Pero iyon pong nagpa-appointment, una po iyon sa pila. Hindi po mabibigyan ng kaparehong priority ang walk-in, kaya ine-encourage po na magpa-appointment. If all of that fails, pumunta ka. Puwede naman iyon,” Jimenez added.
Metro Manila mayors called for the postponement of voter registration amid the COVID-19 pandemic, saying such an initiative can breed mass gathering.
Jimenez said the poll body will discuss on Wednesday its response to such a call.
Voter registration is conducted from Tuesdays to Saturdays, including holidays, from 8:00 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Comelec’s Office of the Election Officer (OEO) in respective areas.
The poll body also reminded registrants that on the day of registration, they must:
wear face mask and face shield;
- sanitize their hands and pass through the foot bath;
- accomplish the health declaration form with their own pens;
- sign the application form using their own pens;
- sanitize their hands before and after using the signature pad and fingerprint scanner;
- take off their mask and shield only for photograph-taking during the capturing of biometrics data; and
- leave the Comelec premises at once after the transaction.
In addition, the following health and safety protocols will be strictly implemented:
- “No Face Mask and Face Shield, No Entry”;
- limited number of registrants/transactions per day;
- physical/social distancing;
- checking of body temperature before entry; and
- sanitizing of hands and footwear.
Daily disinfection of all OEOs will also be undertaken to ensure safety at all times. —KG, GMA News