By AYIE LICSI | The Philippine Star Life
"Extend voter's registration," this is the call of many Filipinos online as the Sep.30 deadline approaches.
Last-minute registrants all over Metro Manila are flocking to registration sites, with some people lining up as early as 3 AM or even earlier. Sadly, some of them, like Twitter user @ejpelliarmus, were sent home as the site could only accommodate up to 300 people daily.
On Sept. 25, EJ lined up at the SM Novaliches registration site at 3:50 AM, but since he was 305th in line, he was sent home.
On Sept. 27, he went for his third attempt, going to the SM Fairview site earlier at 3:00 in the morning together with hundreds of people. Unfortunately, he again didn't make the cut-off again and went home unregistered.
Another user online shared a video of how at 10 PM, there's already an influx of would-be voters camped outside a Robinson's mall in Palawan looking to sign up the next day.
Despite the difficulties they face while registering to vote, some Filipinos are still persevering. RJ, a resident from Pasig, shared how he has tried three times to register, visiting satellite registration sites at SM City East Ortigas and Comelec Pasig City Dos.
"It's my third attempt going to a Pasig registration site at 4 AM, only to be sent home because of people who lined up yesterday," he wrote on Facebook. He failed to register again today at the mall registration site he visited.
Amid the increase in last-minute registrants, Filipinos online are calling on the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to extend the sign-up period, especially since registration was suspended for over a month due to enhanced community quarantine.
"Can't blame people for trying to register kahit na late na because of their fear of leaving their house, ilang buwan nag-ECQ, and walang sistema in certain COMELEC offices," another Twitter user lamented, posting a video of a long line outside Robinson's Las Piñas at 6 AM for voter's registration.
Different lawmakers and youth groups have called for extending the registration period, citing that millions of people could be disenfranchised from voting. In August, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez shared that there are now 61 million registered voters out of the 73 million that the Philippine Statistics Authority projected.
Comelec rejected these earlier calls and instead put effort into extending the daily registration hours, partnering with malls for registration sites, and launching online reactivation of voter data.
On Sept. 27, the Senate has approved a bill that aims to extend voter registration from Sept. 30 to Oct. 31. The House of Representatives on the same day also approved a similar measure, which aims to extend voter registration by 30 days.
Thumbnail and banner photo by Miguel De Guzman/Philippine STAR.