MANILA - A legal group on Monday urged the Commission on Elections to extend its registration period to accommodate 13 million voters who are still unregistered due to lockdown restrictions.
This, after the Comelec en banc last week rejected calls to extend the voter registration period, due to end Sept. 30, citing "operational concerns" and the tight timeline before the elections in May 2022.
"There will be about 13 million na hindi pa (that's not yet) registered as of today and the non-extension of the registration deadline will certainly affect how many people could vote these coming elections," lawyer Dondi Justiniani, legal officer of Initiatives for Dialogue and Empowerment through Alternative Legal Services, told ANC.
Citing data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, he said that there are 73 million voters who are qualified to participate in the 2022 elections. So far, the poll body has registered 60 million voters.
Voter registration is currently suspended in areas under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and modified ECQ.
Metro Manila and the provinces of Laguna and Bataan are under MECQ until the end of August.
While most people couldn't go out due to the still raging pandemic, he said the youth sector was the most affected in the non-extension of voter registration.
"Eighteen below are very restricted in terms of how much they can travel under the community quarantine situation," Justiniani said.
The legal group encouraged Comelec to partner with the academe to open satellite registrations.
The group also said it was "a step in the right decision" for Comelec to set longer registration hours, which took effect Monday, Aug. 23, until the end of September.
"I think that 2022 will be very critical because this will determine how we will move forward from this pandemic situation, which really put our country back," he said. "I think those [that] will be elected in next year's election will have a huge role in that situation."