MAASIN CITY-New voters in remote barangays of this city, including those with concerns that needed action by the Commission on Elections (Comelec), have expressed gratitude that the poll body went to their place to conduct registration and update records.

“I can sense their deep appreciation. Of course, for us, it was part of our service to bring the government closer to the people,” said Atty. Don Joshua Margate, city elections officer.

In an interview with the Philippine Information Agency, Margate stated that if an individual registrant had gone to the Comelec office located in the downtown area of Barangay Combado, they would have had to spend at least P120 on transportation alone, excluding expenses for meals and snacks.

On Feb. 24, Comelec personnel went to Barangay Lonoy, an upland community, for the first in a series of satellite registrations. People from the neighboring mountain barangays of Basak, Canjoum, and Tigbawan were also accommodated.

“Anindot nang programaha nga gisaka mi, gikalipay sa mga tawo,” said Celestino Laraga, Punong Barangay of Lonoy, when PIA asked for his reaction by phone. (The program is good, and it brings joy to the people.)

Aside from listing new voters, which totaled 41 for all four barangays, other services extended by the poll body included the transfer of registration, correction of entry, and reactivation of registration, Margate said.

When asked why Barangay Lonoy was selected as the pilot site out of more than 30 upland barangays in the city, Margate said the only consideration was that it was a catchment area for the three other barangays.

He said they would schedule going out for another satellite registration again in a place where people in nearby barangays can easily come, just like in Lonoy.

Aside from reaching out to far-flung communities, the Comelec will also hold a special registration next month for senior citizens, persons deprived of liberty (PDLs), persons with disabilities (PWDs), and grandparents. Margate shared this information.

The Comelec started continuing registration on Feb. 12 for next year’s local and national elections. As of the last count here in the city, there were already 243 new registrants, or those who shall turn 18 years old on the day of the elections next year, on May 12, 2025, based on their guidelines.

Comelec called on those living in the heart of the city, new voters, and those with other Comelec-related concerns to walk in at their office in Barangay Combado and have themselves registered until Sept. 30, 2024, so they can cast their votes for next year’s elections. (AAC/MMP/PIA Southern Leyte)