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Comelec rejects calls to move voter registration deadline, extends hours instead


The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will extend the voter registration hours but will not move the deadline to October 31, 2021 as proposed by some lawmakers.

In a statement, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said the Commission en Banc has discussed the resolution filed by seven senators urging the poll body to extend the voter registration.

“The en Banc — citing concerns about the timeline of preparations for the 2022 National and Local Elections, as well as significant continuing apprehensions about the health and safety of the public and of COMELEC personnel —  decided against extending the voter registration period beyond September [30], 2021,” Jimenez said.

While the poll body bucked the calls to move the voter registration deadline, Jimenez said the Comelec en banc “unanimously approved” the extension of registration hours and the opening of voter registration on Saturdays and holidays for the remaining days of the voter registration period.

"The Commission did unanimously approve a package of modifications... that would allow people to register even on Saturdays and holidays for the remainder of the registration period," Jimenez said at a press briefing.

In a tweet, poll commissioner Rowena Guanzon said the en banc approved the extension of registration hours “Monday up to 7 PM and on Saturday up to 5PM.”

Comelec Commissioner Marlon Casquejo likewise proposed to open the voter registration at 7 a.m., according to Guanzon.

Last week, seven senators filed a resolution urging the poll body to move the deadline for voter registration from September 30, 2021 to October 31, 2021 to prevent “voter disenfranchisement” brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The resolution was introduced by Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, Senators Francis Pangilinan, Nancy Binay, Leila De Lima, Risa Hontiveros, and Joel Villanueva.

In a statement shortly after the Comelec’s announcement, Hontiveros lamented that the commissioners have rejected their proposal.

“Nevertheless, I welcome COMELEC’s proposal to provide longer registration hours, possibly even adding Sundays to their schedule, to somehow make up for lost time,” she said.

Hontiveros called on first-time voters to pre-register with Comelec online while some parts of the country are still on lockdown.

“Huwag palampasin ang pagkakataong makilahok sa halalan sa 2022 [Do not miss the opportunity to participate in the 2022 elections],” she said.  —with Jamil Santos/KBK, GMA News