MANILA - Some members of the House of Representatives on Wednesday urged the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to reconsider its decision to not extend the Sept. 30 deadline for voter registration.
The poll body earlier in the day said the Commission en banc voted, by majority vote, not to extend the registration period for Halalan 2022.
House Deputy Speaker and Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez
said Comelec's move to extend voter registration hours, instead of the deadline next month is difficult for those who wish to vote.
"It’s more difficult ... it will be already nighttime if you extend it. ... I’m not agreeable to extending the time. I am for extension of registration," he said in a press conference.
Members of the Makabayan bloc in the House also opposed the poll body’s decision.
“Not extending the deadline for voters registration is denying many Filipinos their right to vote. Sa panahon ng pandemya, na ilang ulit nang inilagay sa iba't ibang uri ng lockdown ang bansa, maraming mga kababayan pa rin natin ang gustong magparehistro o kaya naman ay magpalipat ng voting precinct, ngunit hindi pa ito maisagawa dahil sila ay naka-lockdown o kaya naman ay napakalayo ng mga Comelec precinct sa kanilang mga tinitirhan," ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. France Castro said.
(In the time of pandemic when every level of lockdown has been implemented in the country, many of our countrymen still want to register or change their voting precinct but are not yet able to because they are under lockdown or their Comelec precinct is far from their residences.)
Castro also noted the non-extension will be difficult for farmers and tribes in provinces because they live far from their Comelec precinct.
“Marami ring mga guro ang nagsasabing gusto nilang magpalipat ng precinct pero laging puno na ang mga schedule para sa pagpaparehistro sa Comelec website," she added.
(There are many teachers too that say they want to transfer precincts but their preferred registration schedule is already full when they check the Comelec website.)
The Kabataan Party-list appealed to Comelec to extend the voter registration period.
While it understands the Comelec’s move, the group still wants the poll body to extend the deadline.
“Extraordinary times demand extraordinary measures to empower ordinary people to exercise their constitutionally guaranteed rights. Sa gitna ng pambihirang krisis, wala nang mas hihigit pang pagkakataon kundi ngayon para tiyakin na may boto at boses ang mamamayan," it said in a statement.
(In the middle of a terrible crisis, there's no better time than now to ensure the people will have a voice and be able to vote.)
Rodriguez renewed his push for online registration of new and deactivated voters. He explained that deactivated voters already have biometrics records at the Comelec.
Physical presence is a requirement for registration because the poll body needs to take the biometric record of voters.
“Hindi na kailangan pupunta sa ... election registrar’s office, online na lang," Rodriguez said.
(They don't need to go to the election registratr's office. They could use online means.)
He said that in the case of new voters, these can be taken when the country achieves herd immunity from COVID-19.
More lawmakers from both chambers of Congress have urged the poll body to extend the deadline since the lockdowns implemented to curb the spread of the COVID-19 have kept potential voters from registering.
The national and local elections will be held on May 9, 2022.