Lagman finds 3-week extension of voter registration 'too short'

Published September 30, 2021, 4:16 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman believes that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) can further extend the period of voter registration beyond three weeks.

A first-time voter registers at the Commission on Election (Comelec) office in Pasay City. (PNA)

Lagman, in a statement on Thursday, September 30, said the October 11 to October 30 extension of the registration period for the 2022 elections was “way too short” compared to what is allowed under law.

He noted that under Republic Act No. 8189, which adopts the system of continuing voter registration, said the filing for application for registration may be conducted until the 120-day period before a regular election.

He said this was upheld by the Supreme Court in a December 15, 2009 decision in connection with the May 10, 2010 elections, wherein it ruled that the Comelec must “proceed with dispatch in reopening the registration of voters and holding the same until January 9, 2010.”

Another decision promulgated by the high court on December 16, 2015 also ruled that the mandatory biometrics voter registration under RA No. 10367 complements the continuing registration, the lawmaker recalled.

“Pursuant to RA No. 8189 which is subsisting and valid, the last day of the continuing registration for the 2022 elections is not October 30, 2021 but January 8, 2022, which is 120 days before the May 9, 2022 elections,” Lagman said.

“Potential registrants will lose about 10 weeks within which to register. With this shortage of 10 weeks, more voters will still be disenfranchised and the 10 million voters still expected to register cannot all be registered,” he lamented.

He also maintained that the Comelec has “sufficient time to finish its pre-election activities, most of which will not be affected by the registration of voters.” The poll body’s officials lamented that they were already pressed for time in preparing for next year’s elections.

Lagman said the Comelec “has no discretion to disregard the mandate of the required system of continuing registration.”

The Comelec announced on Wednesday that it will reopen voter registrations after the filing of certificates of candidacy (COCs), which will begin Friday, October 1, until October 8.

The deadline was initially set Sept. 30, and will resume on October 11 to October 30.

The period of extension, however, was 14 days short of the Congress-ratified proposal to prolong the registration for 30 more days. The bill has been enrolled for President Duterte’s approval.

Nevertheless, leaders of the House of Representatives and Senate accepted the Comelec’s move, as this satisfies their demand to give voters more time to register for the upcoming elections.

On Wednesday night, the Senate was informed that Duterte will veto the enrolled bill since it is moot.