MANILA (UPDATE) - The House of Representatives on Monday adopted a resolution urging the Commission on Elections to extend the deadline for voter registration in the country and abroad.
This as the upper chamber of Congress also approved Senate Concurrent Resolution 17 urging the poll body to move the voter registration deadline from Sept. 30, 2021 to Oct. 31 of this year.
House Resolution 2231 cited the Philippine Statistics Authority's (PSA) report in a Senate hearing which said that the projected voting population for the 2022 elections is 73.3 million.
“As of June 2021, the Comelec reported that there are only around 60 million registered voters, indicating, therefore, that around 13 million Filipinos here and abroad remain unregistered,” the resolution read.
House members said that while the Comelec needs ample time to prepare the final list of voters which is a prerequisite for the preparation of the project of precincts, extending the deadline for voters registration will neither unduly hamper nor delay the said preparatory works.
The voter registration period in previous national and local elections were extended at least until October 31.
The House resolution said the Supreme Court recognized Comelec's power to set the deadline of voter registration provided that no registration may be done during the period starting 120 days before a regular election.
“The setting of the September 30, 2021 voter's registration deadline by the Comelec did not anticipate the adverse impact of the pandemic which led to many eligible voters unable to register,” it read.
Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago welcomed the adoption of HR 2231, which she authored.
“Nasa 9 milyon pa ang hindi nakakapagparehistro. At malaking bagay ang kahit isang buwan na extension para bigyan pa ng pagkakataon ang mas marami pang unregistered na makapagparehistro na sa gitna ng pandemya," she said.
"Sa panahon na tumataas ang bilang ng COVID-19 infections dulot ng bago at mas nakahahawang variants, higit na kailangan ang mga hakbang tulad ng extension ng voter registration period para tiyaking ligtas na makakapagparehistro upang makaboto ang mga kabataan at ating kababayan.”
According to Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan, if the House approves a counterpart measure to Senate Concurrent Resolution 17 which he authored, "it will be the collective stand of the Philippine Congress."
"In addition, and to further enforce this resolution, the Senate is rushing a bill to mandate an extension of the registration deadline, before the adjournment of congressional sessions on Sept. 29," Pangilinan said.
The Comelec en banc last month rejected calls to extend the voter registration period citing "operational concerns" and the tight timeline before the elections on May 9, 2022.
The commission instead extended voter registration hours beginning Aug. 23.
Comelec chairman Sheriff Abas will likely call for the en banc to meet on Wednesday to discuss Congress' resolutions, commissioner Rowena Guanzon said Tuesday.
"For sure si chair Abas magseset yan ng agenda baka by tomorrow.
Paguusapan ulit kasi ako lang ang bumoto ma-extend. Majority ayaw, naiintindihan natin sila kais domino effect nga 'yan," she told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.
(For sure chairman Abas will set an agenda maybe by tomorrow. We will discuss it again because I'm the only one who voted for an extension. Majority of the en banc did not want to but we understand because it will cause a domino effect.)
— Reports from RG Cruz and Robert Mano, ABS-CBN News