Our Ballot Cry: Here's Why You Need to Vote in the Upcoming Elections
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Our Ballot Cry: Here’s Why You Need to Vote in the Upcoming 2022 Elections

Our Ballot Cry: Here’s Why You Need to Vote in the Upcoming 2022 Elections

NewPH | June 2, 2021
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Kickstarting our New PH campaign, Atty. Connie Aquino shines the spotlight on the importance of voting responsibly in the upcoming elections.

In a democracy, the transition of power from one leader to another highlights the maturity in which a political ideology is practiced and protected. The Philippines has, of course, had a history of controversial turnovers. And that history speaks volumes on the importance of the right of suffrage today, since we refuse to take that right for granted.

2022 will be a year of great importance—as it will showcase the Filipinos’ view of the leadership’s COVID-19 response. But, we must also recognize the challenges on the voters’ registration, which may prevent the full participation of the electorate. These include the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the on-again-off-again lockdowns, which have put the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) in a unprecedented position.

Additionally, the suspension of registration, having to comply with health regulations, and attempting to move towards an online registration have all contributed to new obstacles for Filipino voters. Though there are new barriers, the requirements and process largely remain the same.

Requirements for New Voters

Though we all know why we should vote, in order to determine the how, I sat down with Atty. Howard “Howie” M. Calleja—1SAMBAYAN Convener and election law professor—for some practical Q&As.

Atty. Howie begins with reiterating the need for new voters to participate. “After all, the will of the public cannot be fully determined without the full participation of the electorate.”

He continues on passionately, having settling into his role as election law expert. “You must first look at if you are qualified. It is simple enough—as long as you are 18 years old on or before the election day, which is of course May 9, 2022, you haven’t registered with COMELEC before, and you are living in the Philippines for at least a year and in the city or municipality you register with for six months before the election date.”

On the Importance of the Youth

His passion for teaching the next generation of leaders becomes obvious as he goes on to discuss the role of the youth in participating.

“You see, many do not know that even if you are 15, you may still participate. Those between 15 and 30 may register also for the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections,” he shares. “The level of social awareness of the youth is considerably higher than it was in my day—with social media and the ability to access news so easily.”

The truth of his statement cannot be ignored—considering that, in the last Presidential election, 18.3 million registered voters belonged to the “millennial” generation, and 16.6 million voters chose our current President. The capacity of the youth to determine the future of Philippine politics is immense.

“Too many people ignore the participation of the youth. This is a mistake—they are nothing if not passionate for change. Even the SK is an important part of governance [and] they should be aware [that] they are eligible to participate in.”

The Importance of Voting Responsibly

As Filipino citizens proudly professing our democratic lineage, we must safeguard this process, lest we once again find ourselves prey to yet another dictatorial regime. After all, 2022 is not just another calendar year in our lives and in the life of our country.

“It is the year we stand vigilant and united to guarantee that the National and Local Elections of 2022 will usher in good governance. And enough of fake news and incompetence in [the] government. It brings us new hope and a road map to our recovery,” Atty. Howie vehemently states. “The Filipino people must know that we have a finite time to make this change. Voters’ registration, for example, already ends on September 30 of this year! With all the lockdowns, we must encourage every eligible Filipino to register now—lest there be another lockdown.”

And he has a point. The COMELEC has not stated any intention to extend the registration period. In areas under Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) or Modified ECQ (MECQ), registration will remain suspended. But for areas under General Community Quarantine (GCQ) or Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ), voters can register in COMELEC offices from Tuesdays to Saturdays, 8 AM to 3 PM, including holidays.

Key Points to Remember

With the new changes to schedule versus the previous elections, what then would a new voter need to accomplish to be eligible?

Atty. Howie breaks it down step-by-step: “First, the COMELEC recommends downloading the application forms from its website, printing them, and filling them out manually at home before your registration. Completing the COVID-19 Self-Declaration Form is also a new requirement for COMELEC registration. It’s best to download and fill it out before you go to the COMELEC office.

“Second, you must prepare the requirements for registration,” he continues. “For first-time voters, requirements for COMELEC registration include at least one valid ID and a photocopy. [And] third, you should book an appointment with your local COMELEC office.”

The last requirement is definitely new to the scene of registration. With the new health protocols, most COMELEC offices do not accommodate walk-in applications. However, if there’s no appointment system in the COMELEC office where you’re supposed to register, you may be processed with a walk-in application.

Come as early as possible so that you can be accommodated within the registration hours. You may then complete your online registration by going to your local COMELEC office to capture your biometrics.”

Important Takeaway

Atty. Howie is known by his students to be extremely thorough. He then completes this interview by reminding readers to verify their registration status. “[Make sure to] check the status of your voter’s registration online through the COMELEC website’s Precinct Finder facility (or Post Finder for overseas voters).”

“The Precinct Finder online verification system allows you to access information on your registration records, including whether you’re already registered, if your registration record is active, and if your record has your biometrics data. You may even verify your precinct number and polling center there. [And] if you can’t verify your voter’s registration status online, contact or visit your local COMELEC office,” he adds.

True to his advocacy of expanded voter education—rather “voter empowerment”—in the country, Atty. Howie leaves the interview with one final reminder: “What was true then is also true now. For every decision and action we make, there is always a corresponding consequence—[whether] for good or for evil. The kind of government we get is the fruit of the votes we’ll cast.”

He adds, “if we want the best, then we should vote for the best. Responsible voting is a prerequisite to the democratic ideals we hold dear and aspire, and even fight for!”

RELATED ARTICLES:

Why The Voice of The Youth Matters Now More Than Ever, And Why We Need To Listen

Tara Santos on Sparking Change Through Your Voice and Passions

Establishing A Family Office: Is It For Your Family?


For the updated registration schedule this 2021, you may contact or check the Facebook page of your local COMELEC office. Additionally, you may check the COMELEC website for more information on the upcoming elections.

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