Senators urge poll body to extend voter registration

PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

SENATORS on Monday adopted a concurrent resolution urging the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to extend voter registration for another month until Oct. 31.

“I don’t think one month would undermine their preparations or would risk the deadline that they have set,” said Senator Francis “Kiko” N. Pangilinan told a plenary hearing.

Many Filipino voters have yet to register for the elections next year because of the coronavirus pandemic, said Senator Juan Miguel F. Zubiri, who co-sponsored Senate Concurrent Resolution 17. “We need more time so that the registrants can be spaced out and accommodated safely and properly.”

The House of Representatives on Monday also adopted a substitute resolution urging the election body to extend the voter registration deadline to Oct. 31.

Senators also agreed to pass a bill that will extend the voter registration in case Comelec ignores their plea. Unlike a bill, a resolution does not have the force of law once approved.

Senator Franklin M. Drilon also proposed to discuss their proposed extension with elections officials this week. “If they refuse to exercise a discretion which is consistent with public interest, I think that is a valid point in denying them the appropriation of certain public funds,” he said.

Senator Risa N. Hontiveros-Baraquel, who will soon be defending the Comelec budget, said she would talk to Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” M. Angara, who heads the finance committee, so they could bring up the matter during budget deliberations.

The Senate last week adopted a separate resolution urging the Comelec to extend voter registration.

About 12 million voters have yet to register, Mr. Pangilinan said, citing the Comelec and the Philippine Statistics Authority.

Election officials have said the commission would not extend the deadline because this could disrupt preparations for the elections next year. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan

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