Comelec poised to extend voter registration amid Congress intervention, threat

Jauhn Etienne Villaruel, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 28 2021 04:39 PM | Updated as of Sep 28 2021 05:02 PM

 Residents line up as the Commission on Election in partnership with the Araneta group launches its one-day voter registration for residents of Quezon City District 3 at the Ali Mall Activity Area in Cubao, Quezon City on September 27, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News
Residents line up as the Commission on Election in partnership with the Araneta group launches its one-day voter registration for residents of Quezon City District 3 at the Ali Mall Activity Area in Cubao, Quezon City on September 27, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is poised to extend for one more month the voter registration period after its Sept. 30 deadline, according to spokesman James Jimenez and several lawmakers, amid public clamor and threats from both houses of Congress.

Jimenez told TeleRadyo on Monday that "we have reason to be optimistic" following the Comelec's top level meeting where commissioners and other ranking officials seemed convinced that an extension is needed. 

"Mukhang magbibigay ng extension... Posibleng 1 buwan... Ang sense ng mga opisyal ng Comelec ay kailangan pagbigyan ang clamor ng taumbayan," Jimenez said in the program.

On Tuesday, Jimenez issued a new statement echoing last night's interview.

"After consultation with Comelec officials, and in consideration of the public clamor, it is likely that an extension of the period of voter registration will be granted," Jimenez told reporters. 

Sen. Imee Marcos, chairman of the Senate's suffrage panel also confirmed an extension is looming. 

"Comelec director Teopisto Elnas Jr. has just called me to inform us that the en banc will pass a resolution tomorrow extending the registration to October 31," she said.

Surigao del Norte Rep. Francisco Matugas, vice chair of the House appropriations panel, also revealed that Comelec will extend the voter registration. 

"The Commission on Elections will be approving tomorrow [resolution on] the extension of the voters registration extension until October 31. With this I hope wala na po mag-interpellate sa budget ng Comelec," Matugas said when he sponsored the poll body's proposed 2022 budget before the House plenary. 

Prior to this development, Comelec twice rejected calls for voter registration extension, insisting it would delay other crucial Halalan 2022 preparations. 

The poll body's reversal of position came as both the Senate and House passed bills to compel them to lengthen the voter registration, amid hundreds of registrants lining up at Comelec offices predawn to be accommodated. 

Some senators also accused Comelec of voter suppression, with Sen. Franklin Drilon threatening to slash its 2022 budget to the "barest minimum" should it insist on the Sept. 30 deadline. 

The Comelec en banc will hand down its decision Wednesday.

—With reports from RG Cruz and Robert Mano, ABS-CBN News