Press Release
September 15, 2021

Senate asks Comelec to extend voter registration deadline to Oct. 31

The Senate on Tuesday night asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to extend the voter registration period for one month to prevent disenfranchisement of voters, especially the new voters.

During the hybrid plenary session, the Senate adopted Resolution No. 851 urging the Comelec to extend the deadline for voter registration from September 30, 2021 to October 31, 2021 "to prevent voter disenfranchisement brought about by the COVID-19."

In a privilege speech, Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan, who is also sponsor of the resolution, said the September deadline was set before the pandemic.

"It is a pre-pandemic deadline. Nobody could have anticipated how this public health emergency would severely impact our daily lives, let alone voter registration," he said.

Pangilinan presented video footage taken by news channels showing the plight of Filipinos who queued in long lines when voter registration resumed in Metro Manila last September 6 after the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) was lifted in the National Capital Region+ and other cities which were placed under ECQ.

While the Comelec announced that volunteer registration hours would be from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and holidays, registrations were cut-off on an earlier hour.

Pangilinan cited the case of a youth volunteer who was told that the cut-off was 2:30 p.m. after he arrived at the Comelec office in Quezon City at 3 p.m. He was also told that only 300 registrants were accommodated.

Aside from the fear of being infected with COVID-19, Pangilinan said there are other stumbling blocks why people could not register, such as filled-up slots, lack of time and money to go to the Comelec offices, and worse, some policemen manning the long lines discouraged them to line up.

"While it is important for Comelec to be given enough time to prepare a final list of voters that is a prerequisite for the preparation and completion of its Project of Precincts or POP, we believe that a one-month extension will not delay Comelec's preparation," he stressed.

The senator pointed out that in previous elections since 2001, voter registration deadlines were set on or beyond October 31.

"The Supreme Court itself recognized the Comelec's power to set the deadline of voter registration, so long as no registration may be done during the period starting 120 days before a regular election," Pangilinan said.

"Based on this alone, Comelec has the prerogative to set the deadline of voter registration before January 9, 2022. But we are not asking that, we are only asking for a one-month extension. Only one month," he said.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel "Migz" F. Zubiri, Senators Risa Hontiveros and Imee Marcos supported Pangilinan's call to extend the deadline for voter registration.

Aside from Pangilinan, those who signed SRN 851 were Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, Senators Nancy Binay, Leila De Lima, Hontiveros and Joel Villanueva.

"This measure, it's the sense of the Senate anyway, it really is just the sense of the Senate, maybe they can come up with a shorter period but the most important thing is we continue registering our new voters as long as we can. As long as we possibly can," Zubiri said.

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