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Comelec to hold meeting amid 'public clamor' for extension of voter registration period

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Friday announced it is convening a management committee meeting amid "public clamor" for the extension of voter registration period.

"The [management committee] will discuss the impact of voter registration extension on our preparations for the 2022 national and local elections," Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said in an online briefing.

According to Jimenez, the management committee meeting, to be attended by the poll body's field and top officials, will be held before next week's en banc meeting, to look into the possible effects or scenarios of the extension.

He said they are taking into consideration the issues surrounding the preparations, including some Comelec officials testing positive for COVID-19.

"By considering voter registration at this late date, the Comelec is effectively playing with fire. But this is a challenge we are willing to undertake," he said.

"We are open to this now because of the public clamor. Marami na tayong nadidinig na reklamo at nakikinig naman ang Comelec sa sentimyento ng publiko na pinagsisilbihan natin," Jimenez said.

(We have heard many complaints and the Comelec is listening to the sentiments of the public whom we serve.)

The Comelec spokesperson however maintained that the timeline make it "very difficult" for the poll body to extend the registration period.

Jimenez said Comelec officials will probably decide on September 29, a day before the voter registration deadline.

The Senate finance subcommittee on Friday deferred deliberations on the Comelec's proposed 2022 budget as senators wanted the poll officials to convene the en banc and reconsider its position on the extension of the voter registration period.

At the early part of the hearing, Comelec chairman Sheriff Abas said the en banc had “politely rejected” the calls to extend the voter registration period until October 31, 2021 due to the tight deadlines for the 2022 elections preparation.

Countering the poll body’s position, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said Republic Act 8189 mandates the continuing voters registration and it was affirmed by the Supreme Court in its ruling on the Kabataan party-list vs. Comelec.

The Senate and House of Representatives have approved on second reading, respectively, their versions of the bill seeking to extend the voter registration period.—AOL, GMA News