IF there's one thing that critics of the administration can do to make sure that their discontent leads to the opposition or independent candidates winning in the 2022 elections, it would be to encourage people who are not happy with the government's handling of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic to participate in the upcoming electoral exercise.

"The Covid-19 response is turning out to be a good mobilizer of voters," according to Commission on Elections (Comelec) spokesman James Jimenez, adding that people's dissatisfaction in, for instance, the distribution of financial aid "is expressed in a desire to register to vote."

"Maraming tao ang nako-convince na magparehistro kasi hindi sila masaya sa nakikita nilang Covid response," Jimenez said in a media briefing a few days ago.

On one hand, this can be interpreted to mean that this segment of the population would support candidates not identified with the current dispensation, but not necessarily for the opposition.

On the other hand, this poses a challenge to the political parties to field worthy candidates who can present concrete action plans and programs that would address the people's problems, particularly those to which the so-called Gen X (those born from the 1960s to the early 1980s), the millennials and Gen Z (born in the mid-1990s and early 2000), who comprise roughly 63 percent of registered voters.

While Jimenez candidly admitted that there is no formal study yet that can back up his claim, he said this has been "a trend of people speaking up" in forums and seminars he has been attending.

"Nakita ko... hindi ako nakatanggap ng ayuda, 'yung isa nakatanggap ng ayuda, ito nabigyan kahit hindi naman... mukhang hindi naman kailangan... Things like these... saan napunta 'yung pera, bakit ito ang pinagkakagastusan, bakit hindi ganoon... (A lot of these things generate a lot of dissatisfaction and, for the most part, this dissatisfaction is expressed in a desire to register to vote, which is good)," Jimenez said.

The Comelec expects 5.5 million new registrants for the May 9, 2022 elections. With just four more months to go before the registration period closes, the poll body has so far tallied 3.6 million registrants, of which 2.5 million were registered for the first time while the rest were reactivations.

Jimenez, who spoke in a media briefing a few days ago, said he believes the expectation can be met with the mobilization of more satellite registration sites and rise in the number of voter registration advocates that bring about increased awareness on the importance of voting.

Besides, the Comelec has made it easier to register by launching the irehistro.comelec.gov.ph digital app in which an applicant can download and fill out a registration form to reduce the length of time spent at the registration site.

Although the inefficient handling of problems brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic may have indeed generated interest to participate in the next elections, political parties would lose the chance to take advantage of the disappointment if they would continue to field candidates based on popularity and public showmanship instead of public service record.

Don't make "none of the above" a choice for many voters by fielding candidates based on "who" they know instead of "what" they know.