Comelec willing to hold a week’s extension of voter registration

PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

THE COMMISSION on Elections (Comelec) is amenable to a one-week extension of voter registration, which ends on Sept. 30, to be held after the Oct. 1-8 filing of certificates of candidacy, a poll body official said during a Senate hearing on Thursday.

Election Commissioner Marlon S. Casquejo, however, said they will implement the one-month extension sought by Congess if a law is passed mandating such period.

“If the bill will be passed as law, then we will comply,” Mr. Casquejo told the hearing.

The Comelec en banc has previously rejected a petition for a month’s extension filed by several groups.

Mr. Casquejo reiterated that an extension would be difficult due to other scheduled activities for election preparations and their low manpower, which are affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Senator Maria Imelda “Imee” Josefa R. Marcos, however, said a one-week extension does not constitute a “compromise” to the one-month period being sought by Congress.

Both the Senate and the House of Representatives have filed bills to extend the voter registration to Oct. 31 from the Sept. 30 deadline, citing the need to address potential voter disenfranchisement given lockdowns and other restrictions since last year.

The Senate version was approved Tuesday on second reading.

“Give those under the lockdown a chance,” said Ms. Marcos. “It’s really difficult with all the long lines, there are many waiting for five hours, others six.”

Cavite Rep. Elpidio F. Barzaga, Jr., meanwhile, said they will now seek a two-week extension for voter registration.

NO CERTIFICATES
Meanwhile, the Comelec announced Thursday that it will temporarily suspend the issuance of voter’s certification nationwide, except at the agency’s main office in Intramuros, from Sept. 27 to 30 to focus all efforts on voter registration.

“The Commission anticipates an influx of last-minute registrants as we get closer to the deadline, and given the limited number of field personnel, we must endeavor to make the full use of our limited manpower and resources in catering to applicant for voter registration,” Comelec Spokesperson James B. Jimenez said in a statement.

The voter’s certification is considered a valid government-issued ID in the Philippines. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan and Bianca Angelica D. Anago