Only 10,000 out of 100,000 first-time voters in Region 11 have registered

Ronnie Mark Alan, Davao City’s coordinator for the First Time Voters Network, said they are wooing the youth to register before the December 31 deadline and to vote in the elections, whether in May or later.

The FTV’s poster delivers this message: "Don't just sit around, make a choice. Go out and Vote."

Alan told the Kapehan sa SM City press conference Monday that the youth should register first to make sure they are not disenfranchised.

Filipino citizens age 18 years old on or before the day of the elections, are qualified to vote.

But the law requires residency of at least one year before the elections in the Philippines and six months in city or municipality where they intend to cast their vote on or before election day.

Alan said the FTV was founded in the aftermath of "massive disenfranchisement" in the 2004 elections. If no intervention is done, he said, close to two million first time voters will be disenfranchised next year.

He said only 30 percent of the youth in their school and barangay sorties are aware that registration for new voters has started.

Alan said the group, backed by Akbayan party list, is a nationwide network of youth organizations engaged in advocacy campaign to encourage the youth to take an active part to influence the future.  

College student Darla Joy Uy, a spokesperson of the group said they are preparing the youth to actively participate in the democratic process so they could help influence governance in the country.

One of their posters shows an image of a teenager with a slogan that says: "I am the future.”

But the group admitted that with limited time and resources they might not be able to reach half of the expected number of first time voters in the region.

Alan said with only 20 volunteers for the region, they have tapped community-based youth organizations to help.  

Southeastern Mindanao comprises the three Davao provinces and five cities – Davao, Panabo, Tagum, Samal, and Digos.

They also cited an order by President Arroyo to declare the first week of December as First Time Voters Week with local government units urging the youth to register at the nearest Comelec office.

The Comelec said unregistered voters should bring any of the following identification documents bearing their photographs and signatures: Current Employee's ID with signature of the employer, Student's ID or Library Card, Postal ID, Senior Citizen's ID, Driver's License, NBI or PNP Clearance, Passport, SSS or GSIS ID; IBP ID, and license issued by the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC).

Those without valid IDs may register,  to be identified under oath by any registered voter of the precinct, or by any of his relatives.

Alan said their group's mission goes beyond just advocating for the youth to register. He said apart from their advocacy to encourage the youth to enlist, they would also campaign for the youth to guard their votes and also guard the governance of those they vote for.

"I register, I vote, and I transform, that's the call,” he said. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)