MANILA (3rd UPDATE) —The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will extend for nearly a month the voter registration period after its Sept. 30 deadline, a poll official said Wednesday.
Filipinos will still have time to register for the 2022 national and local elections from Oct. 11 to 30, following public clamor and pressure from both houses of Congress.
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said the Comelec en banc approved the extension Wednesday. Registration will be suspended on the first week of October (October 1-8) to give way for the filing of certificates of candidacy by 2022 hopefuls.
Voter registration is open from Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon said.
There will be no registration on Saturdays, except for Oct. 30, she added. Reactivation is still through email or personal appearance.
"As I have voted a month ago, I voted again today to extend voter registration because of the necessity for it and to ensure access of all voters to the elections," Guanzon wrote on Twitter.
Prior to this development, the Comelec had twice rejected calls for an extension of voter registration, saying doing so would derail crucial preparations for the 2022 polls.
There has been clamor for the extension following earlier suspensions due to COVID-19 lockdowns.
Meanwhile, the Comelec en banc also approved the extension of the registration for overseas voters from Oct. 1 to 14, Jimenez said.
The COC filing will not affect the registration so it could start immediately, he added.
In August, Philip Luis Marin of the Comelec Office for Overseas Voting said the current number of overseas voter registrants was estimated at around 1.5 million.
The overseas voter target for next year's elections is at 1.6 million.
Overseas voter turnout in the 2019 midterm polls was the highest for a midterm election, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs, with 334,928 votes cast out of 1.8 million registered overseas voters.
The poll body's reversal of position came as both the Senate and House passed bills to compel them to lengthen the voter registration period as hundreds of registrants lined up at Comelec offices predawn to be accommodated.
Comelec had been insistent to end voter registration on Sept. 30, fearing a domino effect of delays in other election-related activities such as the loading of data to the vote counting machines in December and the printing of ballots in January.
The poll body likewise said they have already reached their target number of voters for 2022, which stands at over 62 million as of latest figures.
Filipino voters will choose a president and vice president, alongside more than 300 lawmakers and thousands of local government officials, in polls due to be held on May 9, 2022.
Malacañang said the extension of voter registration was "a positive development in light of the extraordinary circumstances brought by the COVID-19 pandemic."
"Having said this, and now that ample time is given, we call on all eligible voters, especially the youth, to register early, and not resort to last-minute registration, while adhering to minimum public health standards," said Palace spokesman Harry Roque.
"Let us all exercise our right of suffrage," he said in a statement.
— With a report from Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News