The election season is far, far away. It is among the least of concerns among Filipinos today, who are more likely to complain about the traffic mess, the lack of transport options, and the rush to find a suitable costume for a party or a unique gift for a partner. After all, this is Christmas week.
So, why is there talk about elections? It turns out that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has launched its first-ever “Register Anywhere Project” (RAP) last week, pilot-tested in five malls in Metro Manila. It means that these sites can now accommodate any qualified Filipino who wants to register as a voter regardless of the place of residence. RAP is scheduled on weekends until Jan. 22, 2023, except on Dec. 24, 25, 31, and Jan. 1.
Comelec is making it easier this time as one doesn’t have to physically go to the election offices and endure long lines under the heat of the sun. All types of applications will be accepted: new voter, transfer, reactivation, reinstatement, change/correction of entries, overseas to local registration, etc. And all the procedures can be done while one is inside the comfort of an airconditioned mall (which now have extended hours).
Comelec chairman George Erwin M. Garcia reminded the public to take advantage of this early — and easy — registration. While RAP is only open on weekends, all Comelec offices and other satellite sites are open during office hours on weekdays. There are also schools, malls in the provinces, and government offices such as the Senate of the Philippines building in Pasay and the House of Representatives building in Quezon City that will have Comelec satellite booths.
All forms of registration will conclude on Jan. 31, 2023. Comelec advises the public to check first its website and social media pages for the confirmed schedule and location of registration sites.
“The (RAP) will provide convenience to voters who are temporarily residing in areas outside their actual city, municipality, or district of residence. If the pilot will be successful, a voter can register or update their registration in any Comelec office nationwide,” said Garcia. “People should take advantage while it's still early. It’s more relaxed and at the same time, you can go shopping or go around the mall afterwards. Just bring a government-issued identification. It's easy and our RAP personnel will help you.”
The Comelec urges everyone to help spread the message, since it said that this convenience is “for all of us.” “So please tell your neighbors, tell your fellow workers, etc. You don’t have to go to the election office nearest your residence, just hop on over to any of the RAP participating malls.”
With the convenience provided this holiday season, the Comelec sends an early gift to all those who want to exercise their right to vote. It also wishes to avoid the perennial headache brought about by the deluge of last-minute registrants who will suffer from the long lines and summer heat. We have to remember that voting is not only our civic duty, but also a hallmark of a democratic country. Without elections, we may lose the gift of freedom.
So, what are you waiting for?