The Inbox

Few PWDs registering in Ilocos a ‘good sign,’ says COMELEC

Commissioner Sarmiento (middle)

By Leilanie Adriano, VERA Files

LAOAG CITY— The Commission on Elections sees the low turnout in last month's special voters registration for persons with disabilities (PWDs) in the Ilocos region as a "good sign."

"You have (few) PWDs. Ibig sabihin malulusog po ang mga Ilocano… Kaya ang bilang ng mga may kapansanan dito a kokonti (This means that Ilocanos are healthy. That is why there are very few PWDs here)," Commissioner Rene Sarmiento said when he visited Ilocos Norte on Friday.

Special registrations were held all over Luzon last month. But Comelec records for Ilocos Norte and Pangasinan show that many of the scheduled registrations in the two provinces generated from zero to very low turnout. Data for Ilocos Sur and La Union are not yet available.

The region is composed of the provinces of Ilocos Norte and Sur, La Union and Pangasinan, and has a total of 2.6 million voters as of last elections out of a population of more than just 4.5 million. Pangasinan is one of the five provinces nationwide with the highest number of voters in the country.

Comelec records as of January 2012 show that the northern Luzon provinces in Region I or Ilocos Region have the following number of registered PWD voters: Ilocos Sur, 1,347; Ilocos Norte, 1,670; Pangasinan, 1,164 and La Union, 763.

There are nine cities, 116 municipalities and 3,265 barangays in the four provinces.

A survey by the Department of Social Welfare and Development's (DSWD) National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction of surveyed PWDs nationwide does not identify PWDs who are of voting age.

In the list, Ilocos Sur has 3,444 PWDs, Ilocos Norte 2,182, La Union 3,975 and Pangasinan 14,593.

Sarminento, the focal person in the Inter-Agency and NGO Network in Empowering Persons with Disability, spoke before almost a hundred election officers and election assistants, representatives from non-government organizations and the DSWD from all over the region in a short program held at the Plaza del Norte Hotel.

His visit to Laoag City was an effort to reach out and empower the vulnerable or marginalized sectors such as PWDs, detainees, indigenous peoples and senior citizens.

In his speech, he urged election officers, public and private organizations, including other concerned stakeholders in Ilocos Norte, to extend their help to vulnerable and marginalized sectors. He said it was a "measure of a person's greatness" to "assist somebody who cannot repay you back."

During the satellite registrations for PWDs in the 21 municipalities and two cities of Ilocos Norte from April to May, most Comelec offices reported from zero to less than 10 PWD registrants.

In Ilocos Norte, Provincial PWD coordinator Precy Dada of the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) said at least 18 towns in the province have their own PWD organizations, including a provincial federation being assisted by the PSWDO.

In every municipality or city in the province, the PSWDO has assigned a focal person to work with PWDs, she said.

Dada added that the time and venue for satellite registrations of PWDs were properly coordinated with the municipal and city social welfare offices, including concerned village officials, through information dissemination and public service announcement from local radio stations.

Lawyer John Paul Martin, Comelec officer of Laoag City, believes the poll body has already saturated the registration of new PWD voters. On May 14, during the second scheduled offsite registration for PWDs at the Laoag Amphitheater, no PWD registered.

He said the Comelec also asked a representative from the City Social Welfare Office for assistance to facilitate easier and faster communication with their PWD clients, especially those with hearing and speech disabilities. He admitted that none of his staff at the Comelec had proper training in dealing or communicating with PWDs.

Similarly, Comelec officer Josephine Balbas of Batac City also reported zero turnout of PWD registration last May 10-12 at the Imelda Cultural Center, located adjacent to the Batac City Hall. She said the local Comelec office plans to transfer the PWD registration at the Batac supermarket in the next schedule of special registration for PWDs for "greater convenience and accessibility."

Though most of the satellite registrations for PWDs yielded zero results, Ilocos Norte Comelec officers agreed to intensify their campaign for new PWD voters registration and reach out in the barangays.

Based on the provincial Comelec records as of July 2011, PWD registered voters total 223—with most of them having visual, hearing and speech disabilities.

Interestingly, Comelec provincial supervisor Alipio Castillo said the low turnout of PWD registration may also be attributed to the Ilocano culture of availing services at the last minute as observed in previous listups. Castillo appealed to all qualified voters, including PWDs, not to wait for the Oct. 31 deadline for registration to avoid congestion and long lines of applicants.

In some instances, Dada said some of the PWDs, especially those with no formal education, are ashamed to go and register.

(VERA Files is a partner of the "Fully Abled Nation" campaign that seeks to increase participation of PWDs in the 2013 elections and other democratic process. Fully Abled Nation is supported by The Asia Foundation and the Australian Agency for International Development. VERA Files is put out by senior journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. VERA is Latin for "true.")


Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Pacmania sweeps Philippines ahead of Mayweather clash
    Pacmania sweeps Philippines ahead of Mayweather clash

    Manny Pacquiao's face is on shirts, dolls and postage stamps, his life story is playing in movie houses and millions are getting ready to party as the Philippine boxing hero's "fight of the century" nears. Pacmania is sweeping the Southeast Asian nation of 100 million people ahead of the May 2 Las Vegas bout against unbeaten Floyd Mayweather to decide who is the best boxer of their generation. Of course, it's the fight of the century," Manila film producer Lucky Blanco told AFP. …

  • Ex-Cavite governor gets PCSO top post
    Ex-Cavite governor gets PCSO top post

    After nearly a year, President Aquino finally made good his promise to a long-time ally – former Cavite governor and congressman Erineo Maliksi – to head the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), replacing Margarita Juico who resigned in May 2014. Maliksi must be officially elected by the PCSO board members as their chairman. Prior to his appointment to the PCSO, Maliksi faced graft charges before the Sandiganbayan in connection with the alleged illegal purchase of P2.5 million worth …

  • US, Phl military exercises to focus on sea defense
    US, Phl military exercises to focus on sea defense

    A massive deployment of aircraft, personnel and warships characterizes this year’s Balikatan between the two allies, which war games were launched 30 years ago. Commander Lued Lincuna, Philippine Navy public affairs chief, said the Marine Battalion Landing Team-4 (MBLT-4) will link  up with the US 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force. …

  • P-Noy seeking united Asean stand on China
    P-Noy seeking united Asean stand on China

    With China’s actions threatening to “considerably alter the way of doing business globally,” President Aquino will ask the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to take a united stand against Beijing’s massive reclamation activities and other provocative acts in the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea. Aquino will raise the appeal to his ASEAN counterparts when they meet on April 27-28 in Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi in Malaysia. Beijing reacted immediately to the plan, saying the …

  • OIC exec backs BBL, says passage to end extremism
    OIC exec backs BBL, says passage to end extremism

    The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) yesterday backed the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), warning that failure to see the peace process through with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) could open the door to extremism. OIC secretary-general Iyad Bin Amin Madani, who is in the country to rally support for the peace process and the BBL, told reporters at the Senate yesterday that the Philippines should not waste the opportunity to attain lasting peace in Mindanao, especially …

  • Senate plan to probe corruption in judiciary opposed
    Senate plan to probe corruption in judiciary opposed

    The head of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) is opposing the plan of the Senate to investigate alleged “justice for sale” in the judiciary. In an interview yesterday, IBP national president Vicente Joyas contested the pronouncement of Senate President Franklin Drilon that the Senate Blue Ribbon committee can probe the reported corruption in the judiciary, as it remains part of the scope of the Senate’s investigative power. “The plan of the Senate to push through with the …

  • PNP: Floyd camp charging P.2 M for pay-per-view
    PNP: Floyd camp charging P.2 M for pay-per-view

    The camp of Floyd Mayweather is reportedly charging the Philippine National Police P200,000 for a pay-per-view deal of his fight with Manny Pacquiao, a PNP official said yesterday. Director Danilo Constantino, the PNP’s Chief Directorial Staff, said the cost of the pay-per-view for the fight makes it difficult for the PNP to sponsor the free viewing for its personnel and their dependents at Camp Crame’s multi-purpose center. “We are currently negotiating for the pay-per-view and we ever …

  • No disruption in gun permit issuance – PNP
    No disruption in gun permit issuance – PNP

    There has been no disruption in the issuance of permits to carry firearms outside residence (PTCFOR) since former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Alan Purisima was suspended in December 2014, an official said yesterday. PNP officer-in-charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina is the one signing the PTCFOR cards, PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Generoso Cerbo Jr. said. Cerbo, however, could not say when Espina started signing the cards and how many PTCFORs have …


Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Poll Choice Options