By Dona Z. Pazzibugan | Inquirer.net
MANILA, Philippines — With voter registration resuming on Sept. 6 after a monthlong suspension, residents will have only 22 days until the end of the month to sign up for next year’s national elections as the Commission on Elections (Comelec) rejected calls for a deadline extension despite several months lost due to strict lockdowns since last year.
Metro Manila and nearby provinces were placed on enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) from Aug. 6 to 20, which was downgraded to modified ECQ (MECQ) beginning Aug. 21.
During that time, the Comelec suspended registration for new voters, and reactivation, transfer and updating of voter records in those areas, including Metro Manila; the provinces of Apayao, Ilocos Norte, Bulacan, Bataan, Cavite, Rizal, Laguna, Aklan and Iloilo; and the cities of Lucena, Iloilo, Lapu-Lapu, Cebu, Mandaue and Cagayan de Oro.
The poll body on Wednesday said registration activities will resume in local election offices and select malls in these areas on Sept. 6. Comelec offices are open Mondays to Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Meanwhile, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez clarified that the poll body actually lost more than 60 percent of the P47-billion fund they originally sought after the Department of Budget and Management cut its funding to P26.4 billion.
Jimenez said that among those that would be affected by the budget cut are their COVID-19 preparations and honoraria for teachers.
The Department of Education (DepEd) earlier appealed to the Comelec for an additional P13-billion budget for teachers who traditionally guard the people’s vote.
“Under the law, we are required to give an increase, but as to how much we can give, that will be decided,” Jimenez said.
The Election Service Reform Act, or Republic Act No. 10756, provided for an increase in the election duty honoraria of teachers but did not provide for other benefits asked for by teachers, he added.
The law provides that those rendering election services shall be granted the honoraria as follows: chairs of electoral boards, P6,000; members of electoral boards, P5,000; DepEd supervisor officials, P4,000; support staff, P2,000; and a travel allowance of P1,000.
On Friday, ACT Teachers party list Rep. France Castro filed House Resolution No. 2181 appealing for the increase in allowance of teachers serving in the 2022 polls.
The budget cut will not affect the procurement of equipment and supplies for the May 9, 2022, elections since these capital expenditures were included in Comelec’s P14.8-billion budget this year, Jimenez explained.