Voters began trooping to the University of St. La Salle in Bacolod City before daybreak on Saturday, October 30, the last day to register for the 2022 elections.
Krizia Marie Millanes said in a Facebook post that by 4 am, hundreds of people – from the university to the Triangle – were already lined outside the Commission on Elections (Comelec) satellite registration site.
Millanes said that even when the queue was hardly moving, at around 9 am, Comelec personnel announced that 400 slots had already been filled up.
While some people decided to go home, the announcement prompted other people to scramble and climb over the barricades, in the hope that they would be allowed to register. She likened what happened to a mini-rally.
The gates of the satellite site were then shut and cops were deployed to guard the gates and keep order in the area.
As a result, many Bacolodnons, including Millanes who flew in from Metro Manila, were not able to register. She said “people’s willingness to do what it takes to vote” was apparent in how they waited five to eight hours to line up for registration, only to be told that they cannot be accommodated.
“You cannot blame the people because they couldn’t control their free time to register, especially because everyone knows it takes hours to line up,” Millanes said in her post.
Rappler has reached out to Comelec Western Visayas Director Wilfred Jay Balisado for more information, but he has yet to respond as of posting time. We will update this story once he does.
Voter registration was supposed to end on September 30, but the Comelec agreed to extend it to October 30, after lawmakers not only deferred action on its proposed 2022 budget, but also passed a measure compelling the Comelec to extend voter registration by a month.
Poll watchdogs, advocates, and lawmakers had pushed for the registration extension because lockdowns and other quarantine restrictions during the pandemic had reduced the available days for voter registration.
The Comelec expects to have 65 million registered voters for the 2022 elections. – Rappler.com
Joseph B.A. Marzan is a Visayas-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.