Thousands flock to enlist for SK, barangay polls
DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/20 July) – Thousands of potential voters, mostly first-timer registrants, flocked to the Commission on Elections offices here during the eight-dayspecial registration of new voters for the synchronized barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections on October 29.
The turnout of applicants caught the Comelec by surprise, causing them to work past office hours,election officials told MindaNews.
Lacsasa Casar, Comelec election officer for the 3rd district, said their system gave way to the number of applicants.On Thursday, the applicants came en masse driven by vehicles mostly owned by barangay councils. Students were given excuse letters, to queue or get a priority number to get registration forms, an estimated 6,000 applicants turned Davao City’s Magsaysay Park into a field of queues.
Children’s playgrounds and amenities like slides were turned into a podium to announce updates and distribute forms as other applicants ate packed lunch under the shade of trees while waiting for their names to be called.
On Friday, park goers watching the queues early morning reported to MindaNews three buses from the group of television evangelist Pastor Apollo Quiboloy also arrived early to bring in applicants.
Virginia Bayo, convener of the city’s Shelter Code Alliance, said she has to make sure the members of their alliance could register. She said a voter’s registration is among the requirements for urban poorto avail of socialized housing as indicated in the city’s vetoed Shelter Code.
Tents labeled with the name of First District Rep. Prospero Nograles were pitched to provide shade to the long lines.
Comelec staff has to shout instructions or use megaphones to stress how applicants should fall in line.
Comelec is accommodating two sets of voters: for the SK and the barangay elections.
Lacsasa Casar, Comelec election officer for District 3, said the SK applicants were not much of the problem.
“It is the applicants for ages 18 and above (barangay elections) that caught us by surprise,” he said.
Casar said since Day 1 on July 15, they were able to process only 2,000 out of the expected 10, 000 new applicants. He said Davao usually has a lot of transferee voters.
Casar said at least a thousand applicants come to apply for registration and it might be difficult tofinish registration on the 22nd at the rate that they are going.
He said the biggest problem is that they only have one Data capture machine used to photograph the voters for the third district.
Casar said Comelec Manila has a rule to give only one machine if the number of voters does not exceed 200,000.
The first district has at least 300,000 voters, second district with at least 250,000; and the third district with 198,000 voters based on the last elections.
But the same problem haunts the other districts despite their having two machines.
Daniel Cleto, District 2 election officer told MindaNews in a telephone interview they can only accommodate 200 applicants per day.
Cleto said one reason why Dabawenyos make sure they are registered is because many local government programs require voter’s registration. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)