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Comelec unanimously extends voters’ list up

Republika

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is reopening voter registration from October 11 to 30. This is after both the House and Senate pretty much gave the agency no other recourse. Initially, Comelec seemed keen on sticking to their registration deadline of September 30, but public clamor triggered lawmakers to act.


Comelec had initially released several public statements sticking to its original deadline due to operational concerns. Their administrative preparations rely on the final number of voters, including official ballot allocation and other paraphernalia.


Senate Bill (SB) No. 2408 was passed last September 27, which said that voter registration for the 2022 local and national elections is “hereby extended to October 31, 2021.”


The House of Representatives’ bill, House Bill No. 10261 (“An Act Fixing the Last Day of Registration of Voters for the 2022 National and Local Elections”) didn’t specify a date, opting for registration to extend 30 days after enactment.


Many first-time voters are youth who have just hit the legal age, but also people who were initially indifferent. The administration of President Rodrigo Duterte has been rife with a bloody war on drugs and many controversies involving misused funds such as P15 billion lost to PhilHealth anomalies. It would appear that people looking to change the narrative for better, more competent governance by voting for the first time, were being suppressed.


At first, Comelec Commissioner Aimee Ferolino had proposed a one-week extension of the registration to be held after certificates of candidacy were filed from October 1 to 8. The House, however, refused to budge. Comelec Chairman Sheriff Abas made the same proposal to the Senate, who deferred action on the proposed 2022 budget of the poll body instead.


There are over 60 million registered voters already, but there’s still a chance for tens of millions of Filipinos to end up disenfranchised. Still, people determined to enact change by using their right to vote have been lining up to register, sometimes even for hours at a time.


Aside from the many aspects of governance, whoever wins the May 9, 2022 vote will also be responsible for the pandemic recovery response of the country.


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