By Ferdinand Patinio | Philippine News Agency
MANILA – An official of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Tuesday said extending the voter registration period is very unlikely as they are strictly following timelines in connection with preparations for the May 2022 national and local polls.
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said after the voter registration ends on Sept. 30, 2021, it will be followed by the filing of certificate of candidacy (COC) by those will run in the next year’s elections.
“An extension of the deadline would probably not be in the books as of now because if you noticed the registration period ends in September which will be followed by October which in the ordinary course of things would be the filing of COC,” he said in a television interview.
Jimenez said there are also talks of moving the filing of COC to later date “but as far as election preparations go that’s already almost at the very start of the process which means that by then we would have start preparing the project of precincts.”
“This makes an extension of the registration period is highly unlikely,” he added.
He said what the Comelec can do is the possibility of extending the registration hours and days per week.
“Instead, what we are considering is an extension of registration hours on every registration day as well as an extension of what amounts to right now a four-day week as you know registration happens Monday to Thursday. So Comelec is looking towards making that Monday to Friday or perhaps even adding a weekend registration. This will help reach out to people who probably might not be able to register because of work obligations and might have more time available,” he said.
He said the poll body is also looking to increase the number of satellite registration nationwide.
“On a daily basis we might extend by about 3 hours. So we hope there will be enough coupled perhaps an increase in the number of satellite registration nationwide. The thing with satellite registration while we are already doing that outside of the major urban centers, we’re still having a little trouble getting satellite registration going in the National Capital Region particularly, because of the stringent requirement,” he said.
He said they are required to hold a satellite registration to have a zero Covid-19 cases in the area within 14 days before the actual satellite registration event.
“So, as you can see this is a very high standard. So, if we can relax that somewhat maybe without of course sacrificing the safety of the public then that would be a great help to us,” Jimenez added.
He also reported that as of Monday, they have received some 1.3 million applications for registration which is far from the 4 million target new registrants.
“As of yesterday, I believe we were about 1.3 million applications so we still have quite a way to go,” he said.
The voter registration resumed in September 2020 and will end in September 2021. (PNA)