Press Release
September 27, 2021

Senate approves bill extending voter registration for one month

The Senate on Monday, September 27, 2021, approved on third reading a bill which seeks to mandate the extension of voter registration amid repeated rejection by the Commission of Elections (Comelec) to stretch the registration to another month.

Senate Bill No. 2408, an Act Extending the Registration of Voters for the 2022 National and Local Elections, was unanimously approved by all senators in virtual and physical attendance, and agreed that the Comelec needed to be compelled to move the deadline after its continued rejection of the proposal.

The measure was signed by Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III, President Pro-Tempore Ralph G. Recto, Majority Leader Juan Miguel F. Zubiri, Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon, Senators Sonny Angara, Nancy S. Binay, Pia S. Cayetano, Leila M. De Lima, Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa, Win Gatchalian, Lawrence Christopher Go, Richard J. Gordon, Risa Hontiveros, Panfilo M. Lacson, Lito M. Lapid, Imee R. Marcos, Emmanuel "Manny" D. Pacquiao, Francis Pangilinan, Grace Poe, Ramon Bong Revilla Jr., Francis Tolentino, Joel Villanueva, and Cynthia A. Villar.

Zubiri, main sponsor of the bill, said the Senate will adopt the House of Representatives' version of the bill, which says the last day of registration will be 30 days from the effectivity of the proposed measure. This will allow the legislature to do away with the bicameral conference committee meeting since there are no differences and disagreeing provisions to be reconciled in the two bills.

After this, the final version will be sent to the President for signature.

Zubiri reiterated the urgency of passing a legislation that would mandate the Comelec to move the deadline of the registrations to allow more voters to participate in next year's elections.

"Hopefully the President will sign this request," Zubiri said.

Zubiri, in his sponsorship speech, said the month-long extension could make a big difference in accommodating people who want to register for the coming elections. He said the extension would prevent the disenfranchisement of about 12 million eligible voters.

In the bill's explanatory note, the senators stressed that almost six months of the registration period was lost when the pandemic began and the country was under stringent lockdown. More days were lost too when areas were reverted back to enhanced community quarantine or modified ECQ.

Comelec resolutions dated July 18, 2019 and January 10, 2020 set voter registration for the May 9, 2022 national and local elections from January 20, 2020 until September 30, 2021.

The Comelec, the senators stressed, set the September 30, 2021 deadline before the COVID-19 pandemic.

"In this connection, Comelec could not have anticipated the adverse impact of the pandemic on voter registration and must make the necessary adjustments to allow more unregistered potential voters to register. In fact, voter registration was suspended several times due to the adverse effect of Covid-19," the senators said.

The senators, citing the Comelec report, said that as of June 2021, there are around 60 million registered voters for the 2022 elections. This is short of the 73.3 million projected voting population reported by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) in February 2021.

The senators said "the Filipino people have been clamoring for the extension of the deadline of voter registration" as a result of a series of cancellation of voter registration.

"Given the extraordinary circumstances of the pandemic, it is necessary to extend the voter registration, in order to give unregistered Filipinos of voting age ample time to register, and eventuality exercise their constitutional right to vote," they said.

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