MANILA, Philippines — The Senate on Tuesday urged the Commission on Elections to extend the voter registration period by another month "to prevent voter disenfranchisement brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic."
The upper chamber adopted Senate Resolution No. 851 which calls on the poll body to move the voter registration deadline from September 30, 2021, to October 31, 2021.
Resolutions express the sense of a chamber but do not have the force or effect of law.
The measure was sponsored by Sen. Francis Pangilinan during the day's plenary session and co-authored by Sens. Nancy Binay, Leila De Lima, Franklin Drilon, Risa Hontiveros, Ralph Recto and Joel Villanueva.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, and Sen. Imee Marcos also asked to be made co-authors of the resolution.
In the resolution, senators noted the "the five-and-a-half-month suspension of voter registration across the country and, after that, month-long suspensions in areas under ECQ and MECQ brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic."
They add that Comelec set the original deadline "before the COVID-19 pandemic," which means it "could not have anticipated the adverse impact of the pandemic on voter registration and must make the necessary adjustments to allow more unregistered potential voters to register."3594432384
Comelec cool to extension proposals
The poll body, however, has so far rejected previous proposals to extend the registration period.
Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said it decided against the proposals due to "concerns about the timeline of preparations for the 2022 national and local elections and the continuing apprehensions about the health and safety of the public and Comelec personnel."
Pangilinan at the time urged the poll body to reconsider.
Instead of extending the deadline, Comelec prolonged voter registration hours for the last 42 days before September 30. It also allowed starting September 6 voting registration in areas under the second-most stringent form of community quarantine.