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MAKATI CITY, Philippines – The moment you enter the dimly-lit, poorly-ventilated hallway, you could already feel the heat.
Teresa Llovido, 52 years old, from Barangay Comembo, stood on one side of the hallway, sweating profusely. She has been in line at the second floor of the Makati Central Fire Station since 6 am. However, she has not secured a form yet to reactivate her voter’s registration record.
At the other end of the hallway, 17-year-old Analyn Zamora, from Barangay Cembo, is lining up to register for the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) polls. She has her requirements in one hand, but no registration form to fill out yet.
Meanwhile, people were crowding in front of the office doors, waiting for the process to proceed and asking for forms.
This was the scene at the office of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Makati City in the opening hours of voters’ registration on Monday, July 22, for the 2013 barangay and SK elections.
Turnout was high on the first day of the voters’ registration period that lasts until next Wednesday, July 31. Senior citizens, pregnant women, and persons with disabilities (PWDs) were prioritized by the local office, calling out for them in regular intervals.
However, there was no designated waiting area for all, forcing applicants to pack the hallways.
Also, registration forms were not given to all applicants waiting outside the office.
Prospective voters are crowding the local Comelec office because the poll body is not allowing this time satellite registrations in barangay halls.
Comelec-Makati official Mae Cruz explained that election personnel would check first if the voters have complete requirements before handing them out a form.
Officials would return outside minutes later to check and collect duly-accomplished forms. Then, they would log the names inside the office.
Meanwhile, applicants would wait in line outside at the hallway. When their name is called, only then they would enter the office for their picture and biometrics data.
(Later in the afternoon, applicants would immediately be led inside the office upon validation of forms and requirements. This was confirmed in a phone interview with an official of the Comelec-Makati District 2 office.)
In a phone interview, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez is glad to hear of the high turnout in Makati.
He stressed the importance of the barangay polls, stating that the current barangay structure is meant to provide frontline government services to the people. The electorate, he said, should take part in electing the right officials.
Upon learning of the situation in the district offices, however, Jimenez said that he would visit Comelec-Makati himself to address these problems.
This year’s barangay and SK elections will take place on Monday, October 28. – Rappler.com