Due Diligence

Filipinos fill out ballots at a classroom used as a voting precinct during mid-term elections at a school in Manila, Philippines on Monday, May 13, 2013. The country is electing local officials from senators to congressmen and down to municipal mayors during Monday's mid-term elections. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

Voters fill out ballots at a classroom used as a precinct during mid-term elections at a school in Manila on Monday, May 13, 2013.  (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

SOME FRIENDS RAISED concerns last week about the integrity of the voter registration done last year.

My friends, a widow and her son, are residents of Barangay Holy Spirit in Quezon City and had faithfully participated in all recent elections. Last August, their COMELEC field office notified them that they lacked biometric information and needed to register anew. They complied at the Quezon City Hall. A few days ago, however, they were advised that their names were not on the voters’ list. I offered to help them confirm that via the “online status verification” service on the COMELEC website. Indeed, the database reported “record not found.”

As we were checking, another friend said the same thing happened to her husband. He too was notified last year that he needed to submit his biometrics and he likewise re-registered. Similarly, he had been recently informed that his name was not on record. He is also a resident of Barangay Holy Spirit.

I encouraged them all to deliver proof of registration to their field office and require an explanation for their absence from the roster.

I immediately checked my own status and, thankfully, confirmed that my record is “ACTIVE.” But considering my friends’ experience, I urge those of you who are uncertain to visit the COMELEC website and make sure you can vote in May.

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Precinct finder results at www.comelec.gov.ph

If you participated in the nationwide registration last year but cannot find your record, I suggest you find out what is going on. The website explains that there may be legitimate reasons why your name doesn’t appear in its database. Check out those criteria here. If you are unsatisfied, then you can contact your field office to inquire about your case. The COMELEC lists all its field officers and their contact information on its website.

While you’re there, stay and explore a bit.

You will find templates of sample ballots for your region and district, and it’s best to check them out.

According to the latest reports, Chairman Andres Bautista has said voting will push through on May 9. It will take longer than usual, possibly 12 hours, given the onscreen verification and issuance of receipts.  Considering the tedious voting procedure, it’s best to familiarize ourselves with the ballot (at least) to avoid disorientation on election day. The quicker we get through the process individually, the better for everyone. Know your candidates and acquaint yourselves with the ballot schematics, to save time.

You can download a portable document file of your sample ballot here.

Sample ballot_2016-03-19-20-53-28

Sample ballot template available at www.comelec.gov.ph

I personally feel that the extra P200 million being allotted for the logistics of issuing receipts is excessive. I understand the need for a million rolls of thermal paper and compensation for additional workers. I will even concede the 100,000 scissors (at P12 each). But P27.75 million for nearly 93,000 plastic boxes to serve essentially as trash bins when old ballot boxes will do? I think that’s overdoing it. Those old boxes are stacked in some warehouse taking up space, much like decrepit government officials from a bygone era. Might as well put them to use and save P30 million, eh?

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photo: pentaxph.com

When my friends reported their dilemma last week, I was alarmed that my record might also have been expunged from the COMELEC database for unknown reasons. I knew it, of course, but I felt more acutely that the elections only mean something to me if I can exercise the right of suffrage. And as it is for me, so it is for us all.

If for some reason we are disenfranchised, despite our best intentions we will have no say in the way the next six years unfold. My decision to vote or not has substance only when the option is given me. No one has the power to deny me that privilege without due process. And it is my duty to perform due diligence to see that my right is preserved.

I am happy that I have finally decided to vote for vice president and my choice is Leni Robredo. I will say more about this in the future. I still have no choice for president, though. I may just leave it blank.  That is my privilege. And now, having ensured that the COMELEC confirms me as an ACTIVE voter, I can exercise it or not as I deem fit. I urge everyone to check your voter status and do all you can to responsibly participate in the elections. It is as important as vetting the candidates. And don’t forget to pray.

The sluggard craves and gets nothing,
    but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.

Proverbs 13:4

 

 

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