The STAR Cover (January 3, 2024)

MANILA, Philippines — Voter registr ation for the May 2025 midterm polls could resume in early February, according to the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

“Likely by the first week of February. It could be from February to September (2024),” Comelec Chairman George Garcia said, as voter registration was last conducted on Dec. 12, 2022 to Jan. 31, 2023.

The schedule of the voter registration period has yet to be final ized by the commission en banc.

Filipinos abroad have less than 300 days to register for t he 2025 elections.

“As of Jan. 1, 2024, you only have 273 days to register as an overseas voter,” the Comelec posted on social media.

Those looking to register, update their address and other details or reactivate their voter registration status may bring their valid Philippine passport to the nearest Philippine embassy or consulate general.

The overseas voter registration period began on Dec. 9, 2022 and will en d on Sept. 30, 2024.

MANILA, Philippines — The public should expect an intensified crackdown from the Philippine National Police against illegal drugs and cybercrimes this year as PNP chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr. has set his sights on addressing these two concerns of law enforcement.

On the war on drugs, Acorda vowed to sustain efforts, particularly on drug-affected barangays.

“We will sustain our anti-illegal drugs (campaign), wherein we will be focusing on drug clearing and personalities (involved),” Acorda said in an interview with Radyo Pilipinas yesterday.

In its latest report, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency said 7,543 barangays in the country are affected by illegal drugs.

Acorda said he is discussing with the Philippine Anti-Organized Crime Commission and other concerned government agencies on coming up with a study on the state of barangay drug affectation in the country.

“We will come up with a list of affected barangays, including the personalities involved,” he added, referring to high-value suspects in the illegal drug trade.

The PNP chief stressed that a holistic approach is needed to address the drug problem and that law enforcement and operations should be supported by reform, awareness and education programs.

He reminded police officers that aggressive operations must be in accordance with the law, which means that lawmen should observe rules and regulations.

Acorda has also expressed alarm over what he said is a drastic increase in cybercrimes.

It is for this reason that Acorda had ordered a training of police officers down to the station level on how to investigate cybercrimes.

The PNP currently has the Anti-Cybercrime Group that has units in police regional offices.

Having anti-cybercrime units in all territorial police units means more investigators to address cybercrimes.

“If we can capacitate our police stations, meaning each of them has personnel capable of handling such cases, the better,” Acorda said. — Daphne Galvez

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Grace Poe is hoping the Supreme Court (SC) will act on a transport group’s petition to stop the implementation of the public utility vehicle modernization program (PUVMP).

The senator said she would welcome an extension for PUV operators who failed to apply for consolidation before the Dec. 31, 2023 deadline.

“We also hope the Supreme Court will take cognizance of the petitions of transport groups, which can serve as a valuable guide for the implementation of the modernization program,” Poe, chair of the Senate committee on public services, said.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and its regional offices allowed unconsolidated PUVs, in routes with less than 60 percent consolidated units, to operate until Jan. 31.

Show cause orders will be sent to unconsolidated PUV operators during the period.

If the consolidation requirement of the PUV modernization program is extended, Poe said it would give transport groups and government officials breathing room to work on the measure.

“During this period, we expect the route plans to be also clearer in consultation with the affected groups,” she said.

“We all want a win-win situation that will improve the livelihood of our small drivers and operators and at the same time give our commuters a better ride,” she added.

The SC earlier ordered the Department of Transportation and the LTFRB to comment on the petition filed by transport group Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide.

Groups of jeepney drivers and operators vowed to wage more transport strikes due to the government’s refusal to abandon the modernization program.

Data from the LTFRB showed that around 70,000 PUVs have not consolidated and could have their provisional authority or certificate of public convenience revoked on Jan. 1.

The STAR Cover (January 3, 2024)

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