Two remaining weeks are left for registration, yet almost 10 million qualified voters remain unregistered.
Alarmed by this, the Mindanao Consortium of Ateneos (MCA) offered to make Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan, Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU), and Ateneo de Zamboanga University (AdZU) as satellite voter registration units.
Xavier University (XU) President Fr. Mars P. Tan and AdDU President Fr. Joel E. Tabora shared that out of 73 to 75 million individuals eligible to vote in the country, 63 million have registered, while approximately 10 million are still unregistered.
“Given only a few weeks to go, it is a big challenge to reach out to the remaining unregistered, qualified voters. We also recognize that it is not only the number that is the bigger challenge but also the reasons for [the] non-registration of our fellow Filipino voters,” the XU president said.
Tan then emphasized the reasons why the MCA are offering the three Ateneos and making an appeal to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) that there should be satellite units.
“One important reason could be the physical challenge for those who live in remote areas. The distance and costly fare may have discouraged them to go to the main centers of the barangays and towns,” he explained.
He added that the pandemic scared many of the Filipinos to go out and register, saying that this is true in areas where the Covid-19 cases have been rising.
The MCA assured Comelec that the basic health protocols will be strictly enforced to make the satellite centers safe for election registrants.
“The right to vote and the right to health are equally important. Ensuring that people are able to cast their votes and securing their safety from Covid-19 are both goods to be preserved. Disenfranchisement needs to be avoided just as we must avoid the deadly virus. Balancing both requires creativity,” Fr. Karel S. San Juan of AdZU emphasized.
Tabora then urged the Comelec to release its 2022 Election guidelines immediately, to allow civil society to participate in safeguarding the forthcoming elections.
The AdDU president encouraged the electorate to discern among the candidates who may be the right person or who may inspire the right competent people to lead the nation.
“We urge the Comelec to empower all qualified voters to use their votes to determine the future of the nation based on the wisdom that is theirs,” he said.
This wisdom, according to Tabora, could be gained from experience, education, facts, mainstream, social media, and through assessing personalities, characters, or political platforms.
Tan further emphasized the need to strengthen the socio-political education and formation of the people.
“We need to also educate and inform our fellow Filipino voters, especially the young people, on the connection between voter registration and the future of this country,” he said.
He pointed out that one reason Filipino voters do not go out anymore is the lack of understanding of the connection between registration and their practical needs in life.
Yesterday, the petition statement was presented through ‘Ateneos Speak Up: Media Briefing on the Call to Open More Satellite Registration Sites Including Schools,’ streamed live via Facebook.