Pangilinan: Extend registration period to accommodate 15M unregistered, deactivated voters for 2022 elections

THE Commission on Elections must extend the registration period to be able to accommodate 15 million qualified voters Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said Thursday.

“Ano ba naman ang 30 days o 45 days extension? I think Comelec should consider an extension given that 15 million qualified voters are not registered,” he said.

The Philippine Statistics Authority estimates that number of qualified voters by 2022 elections at 73 million, and Comelec puts the registered voters at 58 million. That means 15 million qualified voters are not registered.

“Malaking bagay po ito dahil tandaan po natin nung May 2016 elections, for the president, 16 million ang botante na bumoto kay Presidente Duterte. So, yung 15 million na ito ay hindi birong numero ito. The presidency, the composition of the Senate, the composition of the House can very well depend if we are able to register or not more of those not registered,” Pangilinan said.

At the Senate hearing of the Committee on Electoral Reforms and People’s Participation, Comelec Commissioner Marlon Casquejo said the poll body is not “closing its doors” on the possible extension of the deadline for registration but said that doing so would cause a “tight schedule” in their timeline.

On Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon’s report of low registration turn-out, Pangilinan said Comelec must improve its voter registration efforts, taking into account the limitations posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Given the timetable of the September 30 deadline, Comelec must ensure that many who are willing are able to register,” he said. 

Earlier, Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez said that 7 million voters have been deactivated, either because of death or failure to participate in two consecutive elections.

Pangilinan said Comelec must also address the activation of these voters.