MANILA, Philippines—The Senate has asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to extend the voter registration period until October 31.
On Tuesday evening (September 14) during the hybrid plenary session, the Senate adopted Resolution No. 851 urging the Comelec to extend the deadline for voter registration from September 30, 2021 to October 31, 2021 “to prevent voter disenfranchisement brought about by the COVID-19.”
In a privilege speech, Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, who is also sponsor of the resolution, said the September 14 deadline was set before the pandemic.
“It is a pre-pandemic deadline. Nobody could have anticipated how this public health emergency would severely impact our daily lives, let alone voter registration,” he said.
Pangilinan presented video footage of Filipinos lining up in long queues when voter registration resumed in Metro Manila last September 6 after the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) was lifted in the National Capital Region+ and other cities which were placed under ECQ.
He also noted that registrations were cut-off earlier than the published hours. The senator cited the case of a youth volunteer who arrived at the Comelec office at 3:00 p.m. but was told that the cut-off was 2:30 p.m. even though the registration was supposed to be until 5:00 p.m. He was also told that only 300 registrants were accommodated.
Pangilinan also mentioned that unavailable slots and lack of time and money to go to the Comelec offices are often the reasons why some people could not register.
“While it is important for Comelec to be given enough time to prepare a final list of voters that is a prerequisite for the preparation and completion of its Project of Precincts or POP, we believe that a one-month extension will not delay Comelec’s preparation,” he stressed.
The senator also pointed out that in previous elections since 2001, voter registration deadlines were set on or beyond October 31. He said that voter registration can still be extended 120 days before a regular election and the Senate is only asking for registration to be extended until October.
“Based on this alone, Comelec has the prerogative to set the deadline of voter registration before January 9, 2022. But we are not asking that, we are only asking for a one-month extension. Only one month,” he said.
Other senators, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel “Migz” F. Zubiri, Senators Risa Hontiveros and Imee Marcos supported Pangilinan’s call to extend the deadline for voter registration. AAC