Comelec to meet lawmakers on barangay, SK polls postponement
But Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal maintained the Comelec is not likely to extend the registration period for the elections, saying doing so will disrupt its timetable.
"Sa amin. ang focus namin [is to] prepare for [the] elections... Di pwedeng di kami mag-umpisa ng preparations now kasi maaantala ang activities for the preparations for the elections (For us, our focus is to prepare for the elections. We cannot afford to postpone preparations because it will disrupt the scheduled activities related to the election)," Larrazabal said in an interview on dwIZ radio.
Larrazabal said they initially plan to meet with senators on Monday and with some members of the House of Representatives on Wednesday, to discuss the possible postponement of the polls.
The elections are scheduled on October 25.
But he said that until Congress passes a law postponing the polls, Comelec preparations will still aim for an October 25 date.
A Senate panel will be conducting a hearing on the possible postponement of the October elections at 10 a.m. Monday.
On the other hand, Larrazabal said the Comelec is not keen on extending the registration, which ended last weekend.
Registration for the village elections ended last Friday, while that for the youth council polls ended Sunday night.
Besides, Larrazabal said youths who failed to register can always do so, but only after the election initially scheduled for October 25.
“We did what we can and that’s it, it ended yesterday. And we have to realize, when you prepare for election may timeline yan. If you extend that, ang ibang gagawin mo, that’s dependent on previous activities, masisira yan (We did what we can and that’s it. It ended Sunday. We have to realize that when you prepare for an election, you follow a timeline. If you extend that, other election-related activities may be disrupted)," he said.
Larrazabal said they plan to finalize the list of voters following the end of the registration period. He said they expect to submit the final list of voters this week.
Also on Monday, radio dzBB’s Allan Gatus reported that the Kabataan party-list is mulling whether to ask the Supreme Court to compel the Comelec to extend the registration.
Kabataan party-list was seeking at least one week’s extension for the registration, saying only one million new voters registered for the youth council polls.
But Larrazabal said the Comelec already decided en banc there will be no more extension of the registration.
"Nasabihan namin yan, we informed media about it. Kabataan party-list was there at the launch of the registration (We already informed media about the registration. Even Kabataan party-list was present at the launch of the registration period)," he said.
Larrazabal also questioned some groups’ “estimates" that some four to five million youths should have registered during the last registration period.
"Registration is not compulsory. Kung ayaw ng tao mag-register di mo mapigilan. You cannot say people were denied the opportunity because we gave them a period. They can still register after elections, walang problema yan (Registration is not complusory. If people do not want to register, you cannot force them. You cannot say people were denied the opportunity because we gave them a timetable. They can still register after the elections. That is not a problem)," he added.
Room for improvement
On the other hand, Larrazabal said there is much room for improvement in the registration system.
"Honestly I think it has to be improved. I would be the one to say there has to be something that has to be improved in the system of registration," he said.
Larrazabal said the Comelec expects a consultant from abroad to come in October, to discuss the flaws in the registration system.
At the same time, Larrazabal said there is little chance that the barangay (village) elections will be automated, saying it is virtually impossible at this time.
"Malabo yan. Honestly that is impossible, sobrang hirap yan. Aside from dagdag gastos ang preparations there’s not enough time (It is unlikely. Honestly I think that is impossible. Aside from the added expenses, there’s not enough time)," he said.
Besides, he said automating village elections will be impractical since there are fewer votes to be counted compared to national elections.
"The purpose of automation will not be as effective and maximized compared to national elections," he said.
Larrazabal said the Comelec will spend some P3.2 billion for this year’s village and youth council elections. — RSJ, GMANews.TV