Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan urges the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to reconsider their decision to reject calls to extend the voter registration period beyond September 30, 2021.
Taking into account all the lost days because of the community quarantines, Pangilinan reiterates that September 30 was a “pre-pandemic” deadline and appeals for Comelec to adapt and adjust to the pandemic situation to avoid the disenfranchisement of millions of Filipino voters.
“We regret that the Commission on Elections did not heed the clamor to extend our voter registration period despite the glaring numbers of lost registration days due to the pandemic. We strongly feel that the pre-pandemic deadline is no longer applicable today,” said Pangilinan.
Data show that in 2020, approximately 28.3% of days dedicated to voter registration were lost because of suspensions due to Covid. Metro Manila lost 38.6% of the registration period.
In 2021, voter’s registration has already been suspended twice in NCR Plus and other highly urbanized areas.
“4 out of 10 registration days were lost during the five-and-a-half-month voter registration suspension in 2020. We should make up for this lost time by extending the voter registration period. May estimated pa na 13.3 million sa ating mga kababayan ang hindi pa rehistrado. Kung hindi ma-eextend ang deadline baka sila ay magahol sa oras at hindi na talaga makapagrehistro at hindi magamit ang kanilang karapatang makaboto sa 2022,” said Pangilinan.
The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) placed Metro Manila, Bataan, Laguna, Iloilo City and Cagayan de Oro City under ECQ while Apayao, Ilocos Norte, Cavite, Rizal, Lucena City, Aklan, Iloilo, Lapu-Lapu City, Mandaue City and Cebu City are placed under modified ECQ from August 6 – 20.
“Nagpapasalamat kami sa Comelec sa pag apruba ng pag-extend ng oras ng registration, pati ang pagbukas ng tanggapan tuwing Sabado at kahit holiday baka naman pong pwede nating mapagbigyan ang hiling ng ating mga kababayan na i-extend ang deadline kahit dalawang linggo,” he added.
According to Comelec Commissioner Guanzon, the decision not to extend the voters registration beyond September 30 was because of the pre-election work that has to be done including the assigning of voters’ names to precincts by December and the printing of the official ballots by January 2022.
Under Republic Act No. 8189 or the Voter’s Registration Act of 1996, Comelec has the prerogative to extend the registration period as long as it is conducted in a 120 day-period before a regular election and a 90-day period before a special election.
“All of us are trying our best to adjust and adapt to this pandemic. We appeal for the Comelec to do the same and ensure that our people will be able to exercise their right to vote,” said Pangilinan.
Pangilinan, together with other senators, filed a Senate resolution urging the Commission on Elections to extend the deadline for voter registration to October 30, 2021 to prevent voter disenfranchisement brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A similar resolution was filed by fifteen Liberal Party legislators in the lower house, while former Chair Christian Monsod and former Commissioner Luie Guia of the Comelec have also written the commission to push for the extension of voter registration.