In less than 72 hours, Senate OKs on 2nd reading bill extending voter registration

Published September 22, 2021, 5:58 PM

by Mario Casayuran

The Senate on Wednesday, Sept. 22 approved on second reading Senate Bill 2408 asking the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to extend the registration of voters for the 2022 national and local elections.

The bill signed by 23 senators stated that the Comelec has the prerogative to set the deadline of voter registration from September 30, 2021 ‘’to a later date but before January 9, 2022 taking into consideration this public health emergency, in order to prevent voter disenfranchisement.’’

‘’Given the extraordinary circumstances of the (COVID-19) pandemic, it is necessary to extend the voter registration, in order to give unregistered Filipinos of voting age ample time to register and eventually exercise their constitutional right to vote and avoid disenfranchisement large number of qualified voters,’’ it added.

The bill was signed by Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph G. Recto, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel F. Zubiri and Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon and Senators Juan Edgardo ‘’Sonny’’ M. Angara, Maria Lourdes Nancy S. Binay, Pia S. Cayetano, Leila M. De Lima, Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, Sherwin T. Gatchalian, Christopher “Bong” Go, Richard J. Gordon, Risa Hontiveros, Panfilo “Ping” M. Lacson, Manuel “Lito” M. Lapid, Imee R. Marcos, Emmanuel “Manny” D. Pacquiao, Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, Grace L. Poe, Ramon Bong Revilla Jr., Francis “Tol” Tolentino, Joel Villanueva, and Cynthia A. Villar .

At the House of Representatives, Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, Majority Leader Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and Minority Leader Joseph Stephen Paduano filed House Bill 10261 which seeks to compel the Comelec to extend the September 30, 2021 deadline for voter registration.

The House leaders said the extension of voter registration would prevent “massive voter disenfranchisement” brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“At a time of uncertainty, each and every office of the government is tasked to be flexible and alert,” the House leaders said in the bill’s explanatory note.

They added: “In order to avoid massive disenfranchisement, the [Comelec] must extend the period for voter registration until 31 October 2021. This is also to give leeway to Filipinos whose registration were delayed because of the prevailing circumstances.”

With barely eight months before the 2022 general elections, the House leaders said it is important that every qualified Filipino will be able to cast a ballot and vote for the country’s next leaders.

The conduct of regular elections, they said, are crucial events in the life of a democratic nation.

The Senate bill stated that Comelec had suspended voters’ registration several times ‘’due to the adverse effect of COVID-19).’’

‘’The Comelec could have anticipated the adverse impact of the pandemic on voter registration and must make the necessary adjustments to allow more unregistered potential voters to register,’’ the senators pointed out.

‘’As a result of the series of suspension of voter registration, the Filipino people have been clamoring for the extension of the deadline of voter registration,’’ they pointed out.