Monday, November 2, 2009

Final Week for Voter's Registration @ The City COMELEC Office (Cagayan de Oro City)

Last week was the final week for the voter's registration period nationwide. So it has been expected that during this time, the place (City COMELEC Office) will be crammed with a lot people.

I went to the office to register myself here in Cagayan de Oro City. And the place was packed! People from outside the office were crammed in a line which I don't understand what kind of line they were trying to form. There was one door, and the people outside were forming lines like it were the rays of the sun as drawn in the Philippine flag. Clearly, it was just the lack of staff to manage the crowd which gave the yearning voters this kind of experience.

I went to the City COMELEC Office (which is located at Burgos-C. Taal St.) around 9:00 in the morning, and got myself registered finally only in the afternoon, right after the lunch break which is from 12:00nn to 1:00pm. The whole time was spent standing outside the office on the street under the scorching heat of the sun, waiting for my name to be called. The heat was really intense. The umbrella wouldn't be of any use. A better option would be to find a shade under a tree or a wall perhaps. It was so hot that even during lunchtime, when I went to Jollibee (Lourdes College branch) to cool myself off, I still feel feverish. When I touched my head, I can still feel that it's hot.

As you can see, people are crammed on the street just outside the office. This one is taken from the right side of the office. This is the line where people would get their registration forms. And the line moves slowly.

Also here are the people scattered, waiting for their names to be called for the picture taking and the thumb printing.

Outside the office, one can see a lot of stalls selling different varieties of food and drinks. A good sight to see there is the buko juice vendor under the shade of the tree. Out of the current circumstance as of that moment, that was the only sight that neutralized the heat of the sun. Other vendors one will see are the ones which sell tempura, fishballs, kwek-kwek, peanuts (both cooked, and the one with it's shell still intact), and even spaghetti. For the local treats, there were also shakoys, buchi, and the local maja. Along with those, mineral water are also scattered within the vicinity. And there are always mini-stores around the area if you want cold softdrinks or other usual stuff found in mini-stores.

Here's one boy (locally known as the takatak boys) just sitting his time away waiting for people to buy cigarettes or candies from him.

There were people here reported to have collapsed due to the very hot temperature in the area. While I was already inside the office, I saw one woman taken to another part of the office, layed down on the chair, and was given water to drink. Some people outside couldn't bear it anymore and broke away from the line. People there are shouting. One staff at one time got mad and shouted at people to move back because people are pushing in, hoping they could get their registration forms passed. With this situation, people inside find it very difficult to go out. One alarming scene there is seeing women carrying infants and the senior citizens trying to get registered on a scenery like that. If people who are in the primal age find it difficult and very uncomfortable in this kind of situation, how much more people in the extremes of the age bracket?

Some of the elders in the area commented that, why not make the registration available on every baranggay? Why do they have to do everything in just one location? It does make sense. Every baranggay has an office, so why not make the registrations available there instead of pushing every people in the city inside one office? I don't know the reason why the people in the COMELEC office in the city never implemented that. But I hope next time, they will try to implement that.

These I noticed: There were only two computers available inside the office; they lack staff--there was no one outside who could manage to make the people fall in line; there was one security guard though who was standing near the door; and I think they are still resorting to the stone age process of handling files with the use of paper. I have seen bulks of paper inside the office in which I think are the registration forms. Not sure though what other files are included in the pile. Why not make everything computerized? The government could set aside a budget for computers inside the office. And they could always hire people to manage all the relevant data. There are a lot of capable people in the city who could do that. But we don't really know; maybe it's that hard for the office to request a budget for that goal. Also, to be able to get a registration form, you should fall in line first to get a priority number. But what happened was, once you get your priority number, there was no staff who would be calling the numbers. What people did there, was they went in line again leading to the office door to get their registration forms. In other words, the priority number was of no use. It just added up to the burdens of registering. It was pretty stupid actually.

I'm waiting for the time when voter's registration and voting perhaps will become a luxury that every people will enjoy. One day, I hope it will come to that.

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