Youth leaders ask Comelec to extend voter registration period until Jan. 8

Published August 31, 2021, 5:23 PM

by Leslie Ann Aquino

Youth leaders and organizations appealed to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to extend the voter registration period until Jan. 8.

First Time Voters Network FB page

Led by the First Time Voters Network (FTVN), the youth leaders issued the call in a letter-petition submitted to the Comelec, Tuesday, August 31.

“The Filipino people, led by the youth sector, respectfully requests Comelec to extend voter registration until 08 January 2022,” FTVN said.

“We appeal to Chairman Sheriff Abas and Commissioners (Rowena) Guanzon, (Socorro) Inting, (Marlon) Casquejo, (Antonio) Kho, and (Aimee) Ferolino to extend understanding in these trying times and heed the call for additional time to register for the 2022 national elections,” added the group.

“The Filipino youth’s request can be summed up simply we want to regain the time lost for registration because of the lockdowns,” said FTVN.

While Comelec has laudably extended registration to weekends and lengthened registration hours, the group said, the surge in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases and the possible extension of quarantine restrictions provide no relief.

FTVN said while the Comelec already announced that registered voter have now reached 61 million, resolutions filed in both Houses of Congress citing the Philippines Statistics Authority (PSA’s) statement that the projected number of voters in the 2022 national elections is at 73.3 million.

“Clearly, the longer working hours announced by Comelec in response to earlier calls for extension will not be sufficient to cover the balance of 12.3 million Filipinos who are at risk of being disenfranchised,” it said.

With the Sept. 30 deadline draws near, the FTVN said, the demand for slots via the online registration portal will increase further with many of those who failed to secure online slots will be visiting local Comelec offices in the hopes of being accommodated.

“These will only lead to further congestion that can only be remedied by an extension,” it said.

FTVN also cited Section 8 of Republic Act No. 8189, or the Voter’s Registration Act of 1996, which states that the Comelec may continue to register voters up to 120 days before a regular election.

“The original deadline of 30 September 2021 was set before the pandemic. The drastic changes brought about by the pandemic necessitates a revision of the current deadline to allow Comelec to fulfill its mandate and ensure broad participation,” it said.

Meanwhile, the National Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) believes the Comelec should at least extend the voter registration period in areas that were placed under lockdowns.

“We can have selective lockdown. At least we can have them in areas that were under enhanced community quarantine and modified enhanced community quarantine recently,” Namfrel Secretary General Eric Alvia said in an online press briefing.

On August 18, the Comelec announced that the En Banc has decided against the extension citing concerns about the timeline of preparations for the 2022 National and Local Elections, as well as significant continuing apprehensions about the health and safety of the public and of their personnel.