Comelec brings voter registration to PMA cadets, soldiers

FORT DEL PILAR, Baguio City — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) brought on Thursday its off-site voter registration to the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) here to accommodate the cadets and soldiers of the top military school.

“First we went to the BCPO [Baguio City Police Office] to register our policemen, now we are here in PMA to give service to our partners from the AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] through the PMA,” said lawyer John Paul Martin, Baguio city election officer.

“We are inviting all employees of PMA, the officials, cadets to come and register as a voter,” Martin said who also urged residents in nearby communities to avail of ongoing registration and avoid the inconvenience of queuing.

He said for the whole month of September, the last month of registration for the 2020 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) election, they have several on-site registrations to include more people to be voters.

“We try as inclusive as possible by going out and encouraging all organizations, all groups- the students, officers, cadets to join in the process, making themselves count in the democratic process,” Martin said.

For August alone, more than 4,000 voters have been registered.

However, this is not expected to increase the number of voters because, in Baguio alone, there have been around 30,000 voters who were delisted for failure to cast their votes in the last two elections.

“From 164,000, our list was trimmed to 130,000,” Martin said.

Those who prefer to proceed to the Comelec office can do so from Monday to Saturday starting at 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., the Comelec official said.

Registrants must bring with them an identification document like birth, baptismal or marriage certificate and valid ID, if possible.

PMA information officer Maj. Reynan Afan said the academy has about 2,000 personnel, including the cadets.

He said they always have the cadets register as voters in Baguio considering that they will stay in the academy for four years.

To date, there are 1,100 cadets in the PMA.

“We also want to pursue the interest of PMA, we would like to have a greater voice in the governance of the local government and national government through our right of suffrage,” Afan said.
First-time voter

Seaman 2nd Class Han Jerrick Javier, 25, who was among the more 2,000 expected to register at the PMA off-site registration, said he looks forward to casting his vote for the first time.

“Ngayon pa lang ako nagparehistro at sana maka-boto rin (This is my first time to register as a voter and hopefully to cast my vote during an election),” he said.

The native of Cavite, who entered the Phillippine Navy at age 21, was never enticed to register because of the difficult and tedious process. But the off-site registration will afford him the chance to exercise his right to suffrage.

Javier said he decided to avail of the off-site registration for a change.

“For a change, para mapabilang din ang boto ko sayang naman (so that my vote will be counted),” he said.

Aside from registering voters, the Comelec is also simultaneously doing an information campaign and lectures to encourage the public to participate in the elections.

The lectures also include the Comelec’s anti-vote-buying drive.

“We need to let the people know that we are serious in conducting an election. It will generate awareness in them that they need to register and be able to choose the right leader. For them to know the importance of choosing the right leader and receive the best service from the government,” Martin said.

“This is just a small step to achieve a greater goal to inform one person who will inform the others, his peers, the community and achieve the goal of having educated voters,” he said. (PNA)