The Commission on Elections (Comelec) should extend the deadline for the registration of voters in consideration of those who would be affected by the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) that would be reimposed in the National Capital Region (NCR) this month, lawmakers at the House of Representatives said on Monday, August 2.
“We must not let the COVID-19 pandemic become an obstacle for Pilipinos to exercise one of their basic democratic rights, the right to vote,” House Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate said in a statement.
“Thus, we are calling on the Comelec to extend the deadline of voters’ registration,” the progressive solon appealed.
Zarate said the voters’ registration can at least be moved up to October 15 to compensate for the days they were closed due to the numerous lockdowns in different parts of the country and even nationwide.
“It is also a way for more people to register as the Comelec itself admits that there is a very slow turn out for registrants,” the Davao-based lawmaker noted.
“We hope that it will listen to the people’s plea; the May 9, 2022 is a crucial one for our country, especially the youth, in choosing new, compassionate and efficient types of leaders,” he stressed.
The Kabataan Partylist, represented by Rep. Sarah Elago, also joined the call for the poll body to extend the September 30 deadline owing to the strict lockdowns that will be imposed in the NCR from August 6 to 20.
The partylist group noted NCR is one of the areas where voters, both new and old, are highly concentrated.
“In these times, Comelec should relax its rules on the voter’s registration and move the deadline. Even with the number of registered voters increasing by the day, Comelec should continue to leave its doors open for more citizens to choose to exercise their right to suffrage,” they said.
“As election laws are to be interpreted in favor of the voters, then election registration rules should be applied in favor of the people to register to vote. We must allow for as much time as possible for people to get registered since circumstances have rendered us extremely crippled in terms of expediently handling voter’s registration,” the group added.
The Kabataan partylist further noted that the poll body itself has admitted earlier in the year that despite reaching the one million mark, voter registration remains very slow due to the stringent policies that bar people from congregating in registration centers.
“It is more than past the time to considering the rescheduling of the deadline,” they said.