By Raymund Antonio | Manila Bulletin
The youth arm of opposition coalition 1Sambayan on Monday, September 13, said it is “imperative” for the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to extend the voter registration beyond the Sept. 30 deadline set before the pandemic so as not to deprive people of their constitutional right “to choose better leaders.”
Raeyan Reposar, 1Sambayan youth convenor, said that extending the registration period is the “prudent” thing for the poll body to do given that an estimated 13.1 million prospective voters “may be deprived of their right to vote” in the 2022 elections owing to the challenges brought by the coronavirus pandemic.
He noted the Comelec’s mandate is to “conduct elections and, by extension, to enable maximum participation of Filipino citizens in the elections.”
“Extension allows people to reclaim the power that they lost during the pandemic or people who weren’t able to make choices for themselves because they are marginalized and disenfranchised for the longest time. The election is one, or if not the only thing, that equalizes all Filipinos,” he said.
Reposar and other youth leaders came together to publicize their “agenda” for the 2022 polls.
It covers establishing “safe, quality, and accessible education,” attaining quality basic social services, producing decent jobs and setting livable wages, and building environmental protection and climate action plan.
The youth group wants an administration that upholds human rights, works for just and lasting peace in the southern Philippines, ensures “genuine equality and social protection for all,” guarantees press freedom, and stands for independent foreign policy and national sovereignty.
Lastly, 1Sambayan Youth wants a “pro-people” government that promotes good governance, strong democratic institutions, and youth empowerment.
Reposar cited that the poll body is legally allowed to extend the registration based on a Supreme Court decision.
The said decision empowers Comelec to set the voter’s registration deadline 120 days before the day of the elections, the youth leader added.
Earlier, the poll body said it already surpassed its projection of four million first-time voters for the May 2022 elections, bringing the total number of registrants in July 2021 to over 60 million voters.
But areas under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) like vote-rich Cavite and Laguna provinces have only reopened registration last week, Sept. 6, after a month-long shutdown.
“Extension allows people to reclaim the power that they lost during the pandemic or people who weren’t able to make choices for themselves because they are marginalized and disenfranchised for the longest time. The election is one, or if not the only thing, that equalizes all Filipinos,” Reposar said.
Nuelle Duterte, President Duterte’s niece, set the reminder that the public’s voice is not only important during Election Day.
“It is important to note, too, that voting isn’t the be-all and end all of our civic duty. Whether our preferred candidates win or lose, it remains important to keep an eye on the public officials who take office,” she said.
Duterte is the daughter of the President’s youngest brother, Emmanuel or “Blueboy,” according to reports. Despite the ink, she’s a staunch critic of the Chief Executive.