MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Many voters got lost while others couldn’t find their names on voters’ lists on Monday, May 14, as the usual problems marred the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections.
Despite these problems, voters persisted in casting their ballots. It was, after all, the first barangay and SK elections after several postponements before. (READ: Filipinos cast votes in barangay, SK elections 2018)
“Kailangan bumoto. ‘Yung barangay captain ‘yung lalapitan namin eh, kasi isang tricycle lang. ‘Yung Presidente du’n pa sa Malacañang,” said Roberto delos Reyes, a tricycle driver in Caloocan.
(I need to vote. It’s the barangay captain that we end up approaching for help, because he’s just a tricycle ride away. The President lives in Malacañang.)
Delos Reyes is a voter in Bagong Silang, Caloocan, the biggest barangay in the Philippines.
At Bagong Silang Elementary School, Delos Reyes had to transfer buildings twice so that he can find his polling precinct.
Other voters, however, were not as lucky.
In the same barangay, several voters opted to leave the voting areas since they couldn’t find their polling precincts.
Even though maps were placed outside the buildings indicating precinct numbers, voters still failed to locate their rooms. Even personnel assisting the voters had a hard time locating the precincts.
Some senior citizens and persons with disabilities (PWDs) had no choice but to go all the way up to the 3d floor.
“Puwede naman pong magpatulong, pero para sa akin ay kung kayang umakyat ay tiisin na lang. Hindi rin naman ganoon karami ang volunteers,” said Nimfa Narcise, principal of Bagong Silang Elementary School.
(People can ask for help, but for me, if they can go up on their own, they just have to sacrifice. We don’t have too many volunteers.)
Challenge for volunteers
In the case of poll volunteers like Isabelita Medrano, they were tasked to help voters find their designated precincts. But even they did not have all the answers.
Medrano said dozens of people were not able to vote and opted to go home after their names were not on the list of voters at the precinct level. However, what puzzled Medrano was that some of the voters’ names appeared on the Commission on Elections (Comelec) database.
The Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) had a help desk with a computer that can access Comelec data and point voters to where their precincts are. However, they too did not know how to resolve the issue.
“Sa tagal ko nang naging volunteer dito, hindi naglagay ng help desk ang Comelec dito. Kami pa tuloy ang nasisisi,” said Victorino Virtucio, a PPCRV volunteer. (I have been a volunteer for a long time and Comelec never placed a help desk here. We take the blame).
‘It’s our right to vote’
At Nagpayong Elementary School in Barangay Pinagbuhatan, Pasig City, several voters complained of names missing from the voters’ list.
Solmerie Polo, 64, was surprised to know she was not on the list, as she has consistently voted in the same polling area since May 2010.
“Hayaan mo, titiyagaan ko lang (Don’t worry, I’ll just have to be patient),” Polo said.
“Ganu’n lang talaga, gusto ko magboto kasi mahalaga ‘yung nagboto ka. Karapatan natin ‘yan at saka sa kanila tayo lalapit ‘di ba?” she added.
(That’s the way it is. I want to vote because it’s important to vote. That’s our right, and who else will we approach but them, right?)
Others, mostly senior citizens, also complained of confusing instructions and directions.
While there were express lanes available, some of these were placed on the top floors of buildings, making it difficult for the elderly and the disabled to vote.
Voters experienced similar problems in other parts of the country, such as in Barangay Batasan Hills. (READ: Senior citizens left to vote alone in barangay elections 2018)
Voting runs from 7 am to 3 pm on Monday. – Rappler.com