By Currie Cator | The Manila Times
THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) surpassed its target number of new voters for the May 9, 2022 polls, an official said on Thursday.
Citing the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Comelec Director for Operations Teopisto Elnas said the commission has registered more than four million first-time voters for next year's elections.
"'Yung target natin, actually, lampas na nga [po] tayo [riyan] (We have actually exceeded our target number of voters). We have 4,863,455 first-time voters; and that includes reactivated voters, [who] are around 500,000," he said in the hearing of the House of Representatives' Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms.
Elnas added that he expects a surge in registrants come the "last days of registration."
As of June, there are 60 million registered voters in the Philippines, he said.
The deadline of registration for the upcoming elections is set for Sept. 30, 2021.
Despite this, Elnas said the Comelec believes there is a "need to conduct further registration," as there are voters who have deactivated and some may need to transfer their residency from one place to another.
"We still have to stretch our registration, conduct satellite registrations - just in case meron pang hindi nakakapagparehistro (just in case there are still those who haven't registered)," he said.
About 7 million voters have deactivated registrations - a bulk of which failed to vote in the past two polls - according to Comelec.
The commission admitted that it was difficult to conduct satellite registrations because of lockdowns due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
Compared to the 52,482 centers it established in the 2019 national and local elections, Comelec said it has only established 18,945 satellite registration sites as of June 7.
But Elnas assured lawmakers that the commission would ramp up its efforts. He said the Comelec is eyeing the conduct of special satellite registrations for senior citizens, persons with disabilities (PWDs), pregnant women, and even indigenous peoples (IPs).
The agency is also coordinating with the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) and other jail facilities for the voter registration of detainees, Elnas added.
As for overseas Filipino voters, the Comelec said it is "processing requests" for field and mobile registrations to be conducted in different consular offices. Registrations may also be done in select airports or through the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.
"Satellite registrations would really help, especially in areas na malayo (especially in far-flung areas)," Elnas stressed.
The Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms, through House Resolution 1796, approved the proposals of the Comelec concerning the establishment of additional satellite registration centers nationwide.