Comelec to study adjustments for 2022 National Elections

Marje Pelayo   •   May 14, 2021   •   255

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) faces a great challenge in the upcoming 2022 National Elections due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the possible major changes would be the schedule of the candidates’ filing of certificate of candidacy (COC) for the purpose of minimizing crowds and to curb the spread of COVID-19.

“Like mayor and vice mayor, they are both single elected positions. Baka mga dalawa o tatlong araw ang para sa kanila. The rest of the filing dates will be for the candidates for the Sangguniang Panlungsod o Sangguniang Bayan,” explained Comelec Deputy Executive Director for Operations Bart Sinocruz.

The Comelec en banc is about to decide whether or not to require candidates to submit a negative COVID-19 test.

The poll body may also issue guidelines on how candidates will conduct campaigns.

Even the presidential debate would possibly be done in hybrid wherein only the presidential candidates are present in the venue.

“Malaki talaga ang impact ng ating covid pandemic but rest assured the comelec is doing its best and kaya naman ng Comelec na gawin ito despite this COVID-19 pandemic,” noted Comelec Commissioner Marlon Casquejo.

The Comelec will resume voter registration on May 17 after the President placed the NCR Plus area under general community quarantine (GCQ) with heightened restrictions.

The poll body encourages the public to use the online i-rehistro platform in submitting information before going to the registration sites.

The deadline for registration is on September 30.

Registration venues are open from Monday to Friday from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM

“Ultimately kailangan pa ring magpa biometrics so they really have to go to the Comelec offices,” noted Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez.

Based on Comelec data, there are around 58.9 million registered voters expected for next year.

To date, there are about 3.5 million actual new registrants out of the Comelec’s target of 5.5 million individuals. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

COMELEC signs deal for overseas online voting test runs

Robie de Guzman   •   June 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) announced it has signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with two internet voting providers as part of its preparations for the conduct of the live test runs of its internet voting systems.

In a statement, COMELEC said the internet voting test runs form part of the commission’s “exploratory study of internet-based technologies for possible use in internet voting.”

The test run is third phase of the implementation plan, which will involve the actual test voting activity, the poll body said.

According to Rowena Guanzon, commissioner-in-charge for overseas voting, the test runs, which come at no cost to the Commission, will begin in July.

“This exploratory test use of a mobile app for overseas voters is groundbreaking, and the results will have a significant and valuable impact on how elections may be conducted in the future,” Guanzon said in the same statement.

Test voters who previously signified interest and have given their consent will participate in a mock election using the solutions providers’ apps or platforms.

The final call for participants in the test runs will end on June 25 at 5 p.m., COMELEC said.

“We call on registered overseas voters who have active and complete voter registration record to sign up and be part of this important activity,” said Director Sonia Bea Wee-Lozada from the Office for Overseas Voting (OFOV).

Vice commissioner-in-charge for overseas voting Antonio T. Kho, Jr. inked the deal for COMELEC.
Comelec executive director Bartolome Sinocruz, Jr. signed as witness to the agreement while Ryan Earl So of Indra Sistemas and Henry Tan Sim of Voatz signed as representatives of the solutions providers.

Wee-Lozada and Philip Luis Marin from the Office for Overseas Voting (OFOV) were also present at the ceremony.

Due to conflict in schedule, COMELEC said Smartmatic will sign the agreement on a later date.

The commission said the signing of non-disclosure agreements will be conducted prior to the actual test run.

The poll body said the first and second phases of the internet voting system have already been completed in the last quarter of 2020 and the first quarter of 2021, respectively.

The fourth and last phase will be the evaluation phase, which pertains to the post-election assessment activity to document all stakeholders’ observations, user experience, feedback, comments, among others.

Under Republic Act 9189 or the Overseas Voting Act, COMELEC is authorized to explore internet-based technologies for overseas voting.

COMELEC, kumpiyansang maaabot ang target na 61-M registered voters bago matapos ang registration period

Robie de Guzman   •   June 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Naniniwala ang Commission on Elections (COMELEC) na makakamit nito ang target na 61 milyong registered voters bago matapos ang registration period para sa 2022 national elections.

Sa pinakahuling datos ng COMELEC, nasa 60,117,780 na ang kabuuang bilang ng mga rehistradong botante sa bansa.

Ibig sabihin, mahigit sa 800,000 pa ang kailangang makapagparehistro upang maabot ang target.

Ayon kay COMELEC Spokesperson James Jimenez, maayos at tuluy-tuloy naman ang satellite registration process lalo na sa mga lugar na walang kaso o mababa ang banta ng COVID-19.

Kaya naman, positibo ang komisyon na kaya nitong maabot ang target na bilang ng registered voters bago pa magsara ang registration period sa Setyembre 30, 2021.

“Ang rule kasi natin kung magsa-satellite registration ka kailangan zero transmission zero cases doon sa area, so kung mayroon kang ganung problema e hindi ka makakapag-satellite so hahanap ng area na pwede mong gawing minimal to almost nothing yung COVID problem,” ani Jimenez.

Sa kasalukuyang bilang ng registered voters, nasa 816,183 ang mga first-time voter o yung mga tutuntong sa edad na 18 bago o sa araw ng eleksyon sa May 9, 2022.

Bukas ang satellite registration sites sa COMELEC local offices mula Lunes hangang Biyernes, alas-otso ng umaga hanggang ala-singko ng hapon, sa mga lugar na nasa ilalim ng general community quarantine (GCQ) at modified GCQ.

Muli namang paalala ng COMELEC sa mga magpaparehistro na sundin ang health protocols at huwag makipag-siksikan upang makaiwas sa COVID-19.

“Ang pinakamahalaga at this point ay yung hindi pa nakapagparehistro, magparehistro na po kayo malapit na yung deadline natin 99 days to go as of today, unti-unti nang nauubos ang panahon para magparehistro, alam niyo naman ang Pilipinas mayroon tayong last minutethitis sakit natin yan e gusto natin deadline beaters sumisiksik tayo sa mga polling places,” ani Jimenez. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Dante Amento)

Election watchdog says COC online filing is good, but fears rise of vote-buying via e-transfer apps

Maris Federez   •   June 20, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is mulling over online filing of certificates of candidacy for the coming elections after Cagayan de Oro Representative Rufus Rodriguez said he will file a bill regarding this amid the pandemic.

Election watchdog, Kontra Daya, said the online filing of COCs is a good alternative, but added that authorities should guarantee the public that transparency will be preserved.

“Dapat pag-aralan  itong panukala na ito may bentahe naman kasi kung gawin ito online kasi yung visual spectable ng parada, pag pumunta ka sa tapat ng Comelec office ay mawawala at saka may risk kasi ng superspreader,” said Danilo Arao, Kontra Daya convener.

“Yung online na pagpa-file sana naman ay magkaroon mekanismo na parang transparent pa rin ‘yong proseso nito. Ang anomang datos na i-fill out sana online sana maging readily available yan sa publiko,” he added.

Kontra Daya also underscored the importance of providing access to independent groups allowing them to monitor and scrutinize pertinent data in the COC form, such as names, party affiliation, and the candidate’s desired position, for  purposes of transparency.

Arao also urges lawmakers to consider the status of the country’s internet connection in their deliberation on the proposed online filing of COCs, recommending a hybrid system wherein areas that have strong internet connection adopt the online filing, while those that have poor connectivity retain the face-to-face filing.

“Sana may paraan yung Comelec na makapagbigay ng mga kiosk o ng anomang mekanismo para atleast kung kinakailangan online yung submission ay may ganung mekanismo pa rin sa mga nagnanais na tumakbo pero walang internet,” he said.

Meanwhile, the group fears that possible vote-buying might still take place, specifically with the use of various electronic transfer applications.

They said gathering evidence on such practices is difficult especially when face accounts are used by the sender and the receiver.

The group also appeals to the public not to compromise their principle and to never let themselves fall prey to vote-buying.

“Yung susing salig talaga dito ay yung voter education ito ‘yong parati naming ginagawa kaya kapag may nag-iimbita sa amin magbigay ng seminar o mga workshop hinggil sa eleksyon  sa mga election hindi po talaga kami tumatanggi,” Arao said. —/mbmf (with details from Dante Amento)

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