August 18, 2020
The National Citizens'
Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) welcomes the decision of the
Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to resume the registration of
voters for the 2022 elections on September 1 nationwide, except in
areas under Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) or Modified ECQ.
NAMFREL also commends the COMELEC for taking steps to implement
anti-COVID precautions, like preventing symptomatic applicants from
entering Comelec premises, ensuring physical distancing, requiring
applicants to wear face masks and face shields, and encouraging
applicants to bring their own pens.
In a press release on
August 15, the Comelec said that they are "encouraging applicants to
download the application forms from www.comelec.gov.ph," and
"strongly recommended that downloaded forms be filled out before
going to the COMELEC office for registration." NAMFREL believes that
the COMELEC could improve the upcoming registration process by
implementing elements of their previous iRehistro system, previously
offered to OFWs, and expanding them nationwide.
Online submission of
NAMFREL believes that
Comelec could take the anti-COVID precautions further by making it a
requirement to download and accomplish the forms, and for the
applicants to bring their own writing materials, instead of being
merely recommendations. The Comelec could also take the precautions
even further, by exploring the possibility of digitally transforming
the registration process, by allowing a voter registrant, using any
electronic device like a laptop, tablet, or smartphone, to fill out
a registration form online and submit the same electronically to the
To further prevent the
crowding of people at Comelec offices, NAMFREL further urges the
COMELEC to implement an online appointment system during the
submission of requirements. As has been observed in previous
registration activities at the Comelec offices or even in satellite
registration locations, the Comelec can only accept a finite number
of applications a day. An appointment system will help ensure that
registrants would come to their respective Comelec offices only on
the appointed day and time that they can be served. An online
appointment system would not be new to Filipinos, as this is the
kind of system being used in securing appointments for processing of
passports and NBI clearances, among others.
NAMFREL is currently
drafting a set of further recommendations for lawmakers and election
administrators to help ensure that Filipinos are amply protected
every step of the way as the country enters another election cycle.
The upcoming resumption of
the registration of voters will be an important indicator of how the
Comelec would handle the holding of the 2022 elections amidst a
pandemic. NAMFREL remains hopeful that starting with the
registration, the Comelec would adopt processes that are efficient,
cost effective, and have the utmost safety of Filipinos in mind, to
invite confidence from the public and from polling staff that they
would not be exposed to infection if they go out to vote or do their
poll duties in 2022.