MANILA – The National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) has lauded the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for coming out with safety measures to protect the public against coronavirus disease (Covid-19) once the voter registration resumes next month.
“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,” Namfrel statement read.
The poll watchdog also welcomed the Comelec’s move to reset the voter registration on September 1 nationwide, except in areas under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) or modified ECQ.
Namfrel said the 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.
It said the Comelec’s Irehistro On-Line Voter Registration System could be improved by adding more elements and expanding it nationwide.
“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,” it said.
Comelec is encouraging applicants to download the application forms from http://www.comelec.gov.ph and recommended that downloaded forms be filled out before going to the Comelec office for registration.
“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 Comelec,” Namfrel said.
It urged the Comelec to implement an online appointment system during the submission of requirements since it can only accept a limited number of applications a day.
“An appointment system would help ensure that registrants would come to their respective Comelec offices only on the appointed day and time that they could 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 (National Bureau of Investigation) clearances, among others,” it said.
The Namfrel is now drafting more 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,” it added. (PNA)