Even Comelec spokesman lost chance to vote

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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(UPDATED) Comelec's information chief, James Jimenez, says he was uninformed

INFORMATION CHIEF. Even Comelec spokesman James Jimenez can't vote. File photo by Paterno Esmaquel II

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – He led the “most publicized” drive to convince Filipinos to register and vote. But look who cannot vote in this year’s elections.

In an interview with reporters on Wednesday, April 24, Commission on Elections (Comelec) spokesman James Jimenez said while he remains a registered voter, the Comelec deactivated his registration.

This happened after he failed to vote in the two immediately preceding elections – the 2010 national elections and the barangay elections. He also failed to register for local absentee voting, which the Comelec made available for those working in the poll body’s central office.

Hindi ako makakaboto sa 2013. Deactivated ako at hindi ako nakapag-enroll sa local absentee voting,” Jimenez said. (I can’t vote in 2013. My registration was deactivated and I failed to enroll for the local absentee voting.)

‘Let me be a lesson’

Even if he works at the Comelec – and in fact heads its information department – Jimenez said he was uninformed that his registration got deactivated.

Buong akala ko na active pa ako. It’s a common mistake, I think, that a lot of people make, na nagiging daan din para on election day, akala mo makakaboto ka, hindi pala,” Jimenez said. (I thought I was still active. It’s a common mistake, I think, that a lot of people make, that makes them think during election day that they can still vote, when in fact they can’t.)

“So let me be a lesson to all of you,” Jimenez said.

Later on Wednesday, Jimenez wrote on his blog that he is “completely humbled by this turn of events.”

“I offer my sincerest apologies to everyone I have ever badgered to register, but I take nothing back. Registration as a voter is the indispensable first step to joining the political conversation that will ultimately determine the continued democratic health of the country… The fact that I have failed to exercise this responsibility myself does not make me wrong about any of that. Although admittedly, it makes me all kinds of stupid,” Jimenez said.

He added: “And I offer my sincerest apologies to those who, as I did, assumed that I was an active voter. I will rectify this situation at the first opportunity.”

Frustrated spokesman

It is Jimenez’s job, as head of the Comelec’s Education and Information Department, to spearhead election campaigns.

In a Thought Leaders piece for Rappler in October 2012, Jimenez said he felt frustrated with deadline beaters during registration.

“Despite this registration cycle being the most publicized ever, apparently some people still had no qualms claiming they weren’t informed. For the record, the media – both traditional and social – contributed greatly to the effort to keep voter registration at the forefront of the popular consciousness,” Jimenez wrote.

The Comelec set the deadline for registration, transfer of registration, change of name, correction of entries, and reactivation of deactivated registration records last Oct 31, 2012.

It said those who failed to meet this deadline – including Jimenez – can “check our website regularly for further announcements” on the continuing registration for 2016. – Rappler.com


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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior multimedia reporter covering religion for Rappler. He also teaches journalism at the University of Santo Tomas. For story ideas or feedback, email pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.