Press Release
September 24, 2021

Comelec budget held in abeyance until voter registration issue is resolved
Drilon calls Comelec refusal to extend voter registration a clear case of voter suppression

Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon lambasted the Commission on Election's continued refusal to extend the voter registration, saying it is tantamount to voter suppression.

"It is a clear voter suppression regulation. You suppress the right of the voter to vote. That is a cardinal sin in our democratic system of government," said Drilon at the Senate hearing on the proposed budget of the poll body for 2022.

"The refusal to extend the registration period is clearly a regulation to suppress the right to vote," Drilon said in a separate statement.

Drilon moved to defer the budget of the Comelec until the issue is resolved.

The Comelec cited its resolution fixing the calendar for voter's registration.

But Drilon, a former justice secretary, said the Comelec resolution is "illegal" as it is clear in the law that the voter's registration should be conducted daily until 120 days before a regular election.

"Strictly speaking, a qualified voter is given until January 8, 2022 or 120 days before the May 2022 elections to register. Therefore, the request of Congress to extend the voter's registration by 30 days is consistent with Section 8 of RA 8189," Drilon explained.

Section 8 of Republic Act No. 8189 states that "The personal filing of application of registration of voters shall be conducted daily in the office of the Election Officer during regular office hours. No registration shall, however, be conducted during the period starting one hundred twenty (120) days before a regular election and ninety (90) days before a special election."

"Your reliance on your own resolution is out of place. In my humble opinion, it is illegal and a violation of the Constitution and the decisions of the Supreme Court interpreting election laws," Drilon said.

"I am saddened by the statement of the Comelec na kung may pondo lang ang extension ibibigay po namin iyan. It is not for you to give. Karapatan ng taumbayan na magrehistro at bumoto. Nagpasya ang Kongreso. There is no discretion granted to you by Congress," Drilon emphasized.

The Senate had recently adopted a resolution urging the Comelec to extend the deadline for voter registration.

Drilon appealed to the Comelec to reconsider its decision given that the pandemic has made it difficult for voters to register.

The Comelec is asking Congress for a P4.307 billion regular budget for 2022. This is on top of the P13.63 billion allocated for the conduct of the national and local elections next year.

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