MANILA— A bill seeking to move the deadline of voter registration to Oct. 31 has reached the Senate plenary Tuesday, a day before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) holds its en banc meeting to tackle similar calls from various groups.
Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri sponsored Senate Bill 2408 that would extend voter registration for one more month, instead of the Comelec-imposed deadline of Sept. 30.
According to Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, around 12 million qualified voters are at risk of being disenfranchised due to Comelec's refusal to move the registration period.
As of September, Comelec said there were 62,470,000 registered voters. But several groups, citing Philippine Statistics Authority data, said there are over 70 million Filipinos qualified as voters come May 2022.
This as the registration has been limited by pandemic restrictions.
Drilon said he received information that the en banc would "ignore" the calls and insist on the Sept. 30 deadline.
"My information is that the Comelec will ignore this resolution of the Senate," Drilon said.
Drilon also defended the Senate bill, which would overrule a decision of Comelec, an autonomous agency mandated to set election-related policies.
"Congress has the right to extend the registration period in exercise of its plenary power," he said.
On Monday, Drilon also suggested that Congress should "slash to the barest minimum" Comelec's 2022 budget should it refuse to heed calls of voter registration extension.
The Comelec has earlier said moving the registration period would cause a domino effect of delays in other Halalan 2022 preparations, such as the printing of the ballot.