The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) has so far processed 5,028 voters in the National Capital Region since registration opened on September 1, said COMELEC spokesperson James Jimenez.
Jimenez attributes the low voter registration turnout to several possible reasons, the COVID-19 pandemic being the first. The second is that people are afraid they would not be allowed to register, Jimenez said before going on to elaborate that there is a “lingering suspicion among people that they won’t be allowed to go out and register. To be perfectly fair, I have yet to hear of a person arrested or even just accosted by the authorities for going out of their homes to register. Again, not surprising because the Omnibus Guidelines issued by the IATF clearly do not prohibit going out to register. Still, people are worried and I don’t blame them. No one needs the hassle of having to explain democracy at the presinto. The best I can do is to assure everybody that if they’re eligible to register, and they’re at the COMELEC office for that reason, then they will be allowed to register.”
The COMELEC may have also shot itself in the foot, Jimenez said, by encouraging people to make an appointment before going out to register—something which, he clarified, is not a requirement. “Many people now think that an appointment is mandatory. And to be very honest, some of our people have been equally at fault in fostering that belief. But I think we’ve got that all settled now and, the chances are this particular problem won’t be giving us too much trouble any further. Still, with these things, its best to always be ready to course-correct. SO, for the record, prior appointments are recommended, but they are NOT mandatory.”
COMELEC offices are implementing a strict “no face mask, no face shield, no entry” policy, and registrants are not allowed to remain in their offices to fill out forms and instead are asked to return with completed documents.
The commission has made forms available on its official website, and has now also made them available for download through the official COMELEC Facebook page.