Manila, Philippines – Senatorial Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Monday called on the Election Commission (Comelec) to expand its satellite voter registration program and purchase more biometric scanners to facilitate voter registration quickly.
In a statement, Drilon stressed that Congress had allocated sufficient funds to Comelec under the 2020 and 2021 national budgets and that the polling body should use them to “buy more biometric gadgets, hire more consultants or employees to order and even rent a larger space or voter registration location.
“Huwag na po nating tipirin ang budget. Kung kailangan dalhin sa bawat barangay ang voter registration, Comelec must do it, ”he said.
The senator said that the lack of a sufficient biometric scanner further slows down the registration process.
“Even though people go to the Comelec office to register, Comelec does not have the capacity to accommodate a large number of applicants per day for a number of reasons, including insufficient manpower. and an insufficient number of biometric scanners, “he said.
He also noted the lack of larger Comelec offices in all districts to accommodate large numbers of applicants.
Drilon believes that installing satellite voter registration sites is a solution under the law that the electoral body should maximize and use effectively to increase the number of voters for the 2022 national and local elections.
The senator stressed that due to COVID-19 health protocols, Comelec’s offices in the country must limit the number of registrants they can accommodate in a day.
Citing data from Comelec, Drilon said there are still three million new voters to register and seven million who need to renew their registration because they did not vote in the last two elections.
“There is no way for Comelec to reach its target number of voters for next year’s elections at this rate of 50 to 70 registered per day. We’re running out of time. COMELEC should intensify its efforts to install more registration sites, ”he said.
Drilon said the electoral body can organize satellite registration in public courts, churches, schools with security protocols followed to cover more candidates.
He also urged the commission to consider putting more than one satellite registration site for cities with high voting populations.
“They can coordinate with the owners association to open their clubhouse or basketball courts for registration. They can coordinate with churches to open their doors. The National Secretariat for Social Action had offered to facilitate the opening up of churches, ”he added.
Comelec is expected to hire more people to manage satellite registration across the country, he added.
“Let’s hire the IT people who have lost their jobs. They know how to operate biometric machines. It can generate income for them for at least three to four months. They can be accompanied by an official from Comelec who can supervise the operation, ”said Drilon.
Comelec said earlier it had extended registration hours for new voters, opening its offices even on Saturdays to encourage more registrants.
The polling body said it was also considering implementing barangay satellite recording to accommodate more nominations, but added that this would depend on the contamination rate in the region.