The Senate will be adopting the House of Representatives’ version of the bill that would extend the period of voters registration for the 2022 elections for 30 more days.
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri disclosed this plan Saturday, September 25, as he reiterated the urgency passing a legislation that would mandate the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to move the deadline of the registrations to allow more voters to participate in next year’s polls.
Both chambers of Congress have approved on second reading their respective proposals for the extension, with the House amending entirely its version Thursday, September 23, to consider the Senate’s belated proposal not to restrict the extension until October 31.
“Kami naman sa Lunes, ia-approve namin ‘yong version namin and ia-adopt ang House version. ‘Pag na-adopt namin ‘yong House version, ‘yon na po ang panukala natin…and then ipadala na po namin agad sa Malacanang ‘yan (For the Senate’s part, we will approve our version on Monday and adopt the House’s version. Once we adopted the House version, that will be our final proposal),” Zubiri told radio DWIZ.
Adopting the House version, he explained, would allow the legislative department to do away with the bicameral conference committee meeting to reconcile two bills, and immediately enroll the measure for President Duterte’s approval.
“Hopefully the President will sign this request,” Zubiri said.
The Comelec has stood firm against extending the September 30 deadline for voters’ registration, with officials saying they are pressed for time in preparing for the 2022 national and local elections.
During a congressional hearing, Comelec commissioner Marlon Casquejo said the poll body might be open to a one-week extension after the filing of candidacies on October. But lawmakers did not accept the offer.
“What is it to extend just for a few more weeks, para maging tatlong linggo man lang, hindi lang isa (so we could extend for three weeks and not just one)? Dahil nakita naman po natin, ang dami-dami pong gusto magpa-register para sa darating na halalan. Punuan ang mga Comelec precincts (Because we have seen that many voters wanted to register for the upcoming polls. Comelec precincts are swamped with people),” Zubiri said.
“As much as possible, they have to welcome the people’s wishes to [exercise] their right of suffrage, because that is a constitutional right. They are a constitutional body,” he added.
Senators, on Friday, deferred the deliberation of the Comelec’s 2022 budget over its refusal to extend the registrations, maintaining it would result in the disenfranchisement of millions of Filipino voters.