Speaker Lord Allan Velasco has led the filing of a bill seeking to extend the voter registration deadline for the May 2022 elections from Sept. 30 to Oct. 31 this year.
In filing House Bill 10261 on Tuesday, Velasco said the period for registration must be extended to avoid “massive voter disenfranchisement” given the “extraordinary circumstances’ brought about by the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
Velasco said the extension would also give “leeway” to Filipinos whose registration was delayed because of prevailing circumstances.
Majority Leader Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and Minority Leader Joseph Stephen Paduano are also co-authors of the measure.
“The public health crisis has been prolonged and many prospective voters have been forced to delay their registration this year and in 2020,” the lawmakers said. “At a time of uncertainty, each and every office of the government is tasked to be flexible and alert.”
In their explanatory note, the authors said the conduct of regular elections is a crucial event in the life of a democratic nation.
“As a basic precept of democracy, each of our kababayans must be given the utmost and widest opportunity to participate in the electoral process,” they said.
During Monday’s plenary session, the House of Representatives adopted House Resolution 2231, which calls for the extension of the September 30 deadline in view of the health and safety measures and travel restrictions adopted to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
“Comelec could not 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 resolution read.
Last week, senators adopted a resolution urging the Comelec to extend the deadline for voter registration until the end of October.
Comelec has yet to discuss the call of senators to extend the deadline of the nationwide voter registration, according to Commissioner Rowena Guanzon.
Guanzon, however, said the poll body is inclined to maintaining the Sept. 30, 2021 deadline.