Kidapawan wants election registration in barangay level

Gantuangco, in his letter addressed to the city councilors, pointed out that there are still many qualified voters in the barangays but could not abandon their work just to register in the Comelec office in Barangay Poblacion.

Most of the barangay constituents, he said, are working in banana and rubber plantations.

The mayor said “out station” registration is needed in order not to deprive the qualified voters of their right to suffrage and to bring the Comelec closer to the public for better service.

“It is impractical and burden for our people in the barangays to go to the Comelec office just to register. I think it is proper for the agency to reach out to our people, especially those in far-flung areas,” Gantuangco said in his letter.

North Cotabato assistant election officer Joel Celis, on the other hand, said Gantuangco’s request is considered “noble and laudable” but already late.

He said a lot of similar requests are now pending before the office of Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos. He added he is afraid that the mayor’s request would not be given priority once it reaches the Comelec central office in Manila.

Celis added that the Comelec main office has prohibited the conduct of out station registration due to lack of manpower and computers needed for the said activity.

He said a permit or an authority signed by Abalos should be first secured before any out station registration could be done in any area outside Comelec offices.

Acting Vice Mayor Joseph Evangelista suggested that the city election officer, Diosdado Javier, should work seven days a week to accommodate the registrants coming from the barangays.

“Let us not wait for the authority coming from the Comelec chairman. If our city election officer could render extra time for the registration of qualified voters, I think it could be better,” Evangelista said.

The acceptance of registration of voters for the 2007 elections will end on Dec. 31 pursuant to Comelec resolution No. 7707.