Proposed voter registration extension gets Lower House's second reading approval

The House of Representatives approved on second reading the bill proposing to direct the Commission on Elections to extend the registration of voters for another month.

Voter's registration

In a motion raised by Pampanga Rep. Rimpy Bondoc, the chamber amended House Bill 10261 in its entirety, apparently to adopt the Senate version of the bill.

The amendment will allow swift passage of the measure as lawmakers noted that the last day of registration, as scheduled by Comelec, will be on Sept. 30.

Authored by Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, Majority Leader Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and Minority Leader Joseph Stephen Paduano, HB 10261 proposes the holding of a 30-day registration period as soon as it is signed into law by the president.

Lawmakers agreed that there is a need to give additional registration days because new voters have not been given sufficient time to register and participate in next year’s national election.

Fourth District Negros Occidental Rep. Juliet Marie de Leon Ferrer, chairperson of the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms, said implementation of community quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic prevented a big number of new voters to register.

The bill was filed a week after the Comelec ignored two legislative resolutions urging the poll body to consider its decision to set Sept. 30 as the final day for registration.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman argued that while he supports the bill, there is no longer a need to pass it because Comelec is mandated under Republic Act 8189 = or the Voter’s Registration Act of 1996 to allow registration until January 9, 2022.

Lagman said RA 8189 provides that voters registration may continue 120 days prior to the date of the election.

Reacting to Lagman’s opinion, Ferrer said she is convinced that approving HB 10261 is the best option available to Congress, pointing out that RA 8189 was enacted when elections were still held manually.

Ferrer explained that since the advent of automated elections, more time is required for the Comelec to prepare the voter’s list.