CNN Philippines : Comelec to tackle Senate’s plea for longer voter registration period on Wednesday

21 September 2021

By Melissa Luz Lopez | CNN Philippines

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 21) — The Commission on Elections will tackle the Senate resolution calling for an extension of the voter registration period on Wednesday, an official said.

In a text message, Commissioner Aimee Ferolino said the proposal “will be an agenda” during the Comelec en banc meeting this week.

Comelec repeatedly rejected earlier calls for a longer registration period, saying it will disrupt all other preparations for the May 2022 polls.

The Senate last week adopted a resolution urging the poll body to move the registration deadline by a month to Oct. 31. On Monday, Senator Franklin Drilon also threatened to slash Comelec’s 2022 budget to the “barest minimum” if it will ignore the chamber’s plea.

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said the poll body will have to make do with whatever amount congress ultimately decides to grant for next year's national elections. "Congress unquestionably holds the power of the purse. For its part, Comelec – as the sole government entity tasked with the conduct of elections – can only do its utmost to ensure that it fulfills its mandate to hold secure, accurate, and free and fair elections," he told reporters.

Parts of the country that went on lockdown like Metro Manila and Iloilo lost several weeks for voter registration. Long lines outside Comelec offices started on September 6, when the poll body allowed voter registration to resume in areas under modified enhanced community quarantine.

Thousands of aspiring voters have reported spending hours in line with just nine days left before the Sept. 30 deadline. This covers new registrants, transfer of voting districts, or reactivation – although reactivation may be done fully online by sending an email to the district office where the voter is registered with.

Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon has said in a radio interview that she is supportive of voter registration requests but was previously outvoted by six other commissioners.

She noted that persons with disabilities, senior citizens, pregnant women, doctors, medical frontliners and police need not line up for registration, as they can transact through an “express lane” in each local office.

Registration is ongoing at Comelec district offices and mall registration desks from Mondays to Saturdays. Guanzon said registered voters have reached 62.47 million, higher than the poll body's 61-million target.