Student councils from eight schools from the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) is calling on the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to extend voter registration until year-end.
In a joint statement, student councils from the University of Santo Tomas Central Council Student, University of the Philippines-Diliman University Student Council, De La Salle University Student Government, Ateneo de Manila University Sanggunian ng mga Mag-aaral, National University Student Government, University of the East Student Council, Far Eastern University Student Council, and Adamson University Student Government, urged the poll body to extend voter registration until Dec. 31, 2021.
In a statement, the student councils said that due to the continuous rise of COVID-19 cases and deaths, Filipinos living in densely populated areas will be put in “danger should they attempt to comply before the set registration deadline on Sept. 30.”
They also stressed that the deterrence of voter registration for a long period of time “does not promote the mandate of our Constitution and may grossly affect the power that emanates from the people and the future of the nation.”
“We believe that extending the voter registration period is the most judicial and wisest decision to do in addressing both COVID-19 pandemic and the concern of massive voter disenfranchisement,” the statement read.
The student governments proposed the establishments of more satellite booths across the country, including barangay-level voter registration system and utilization of covered courts, gymnasiums, and parks “to immediately cater to the residents of the specific areas.”
“The establishments of this system will ease the threat of acquiring COVID-19 by drastically limiting the time of individuals outside of his/her residence,” they noted.
They also suggested vaccinating Comelec poll and registrations workers “as they continue to serve the public” and the provision of further support for infrastructures such as fingerprint scanners and camera.
The Comelec earlier rejected extending the voter registration period beyond the Sept. 30 deadline, citing “technical aspects of the preparation, software preparation, and modification of counting machines.”