By ANNA FELICIA BAJO | GMA News Online
To prevent massive voter disenfranchisement amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Kabataan party-list Representative Sarah Elago is urging the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to extend the deadline of the voter registration period until October 31, 2021.
Elago, together with other Makabayan bloc members Representatives France Castro, Carlos Zarate, Arlene Brosas, Eufemia Cullamat and Ferdinand Gaite, lodged a House resolution calling the Comelec to extend the voter registration period to ensure the maximum participation of citizens in the elections and the quality of such polls.
The lawmakers said the backlog and challenges in voter's registration threaten to disenfranchise an estimated 13.1 million prospective voters in the coming 2022 national elections.
"While we recognize Comelec’s need to have ample time to prepare the final list of voters, which is a prerequisite for the preparation and completion of the Project of Precincts (POP), the youth and the people believe that at least a month extension would not delay that much Comelec’s preparation of the POP," the lawmakers said.
"In fact, there are previous instances in which Comelec set deadlines that are on or even beyond October 31 of the year before elections (National and Local Elections [NLEs] 2001, 2004, 2007, 2010, 2013)," they added.
The deadline for voter registration is on September 30,2021.
Extending voter registration is a prudent thing to do and is also already an imperative one as we have just and heavier reasons to reimplement it now more than ever, they said.
"The September 30 deadline was set before the COVID-19 pandemic and it now falls upon the Comelec’s prerogative to adjust the deadline due to the ramifications of the pandemic and registration problems that need to be made up for," the Makabayan Bloc said.
At least seven senators also filed a Senate resolution urging the poll body to extend the voter registration period by one month.
GMA News Online has reached out to the poll body for its comment on the matter but has yet to reply as of posting time.
But Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez earlier said there is no decision yet on the possible extension of the voter registration period, but the poll officials are already discussing the matter.
Jimenez added the executive director is expected to report the conclusions back to the en banc in due time.
At present, voter registration in the National Capital Region is suspended amid the implementation of enhanced community quarantine, which will last until August 20. — RSJ, GMA News