ASPIRING voters will now have until next month to register with the Commission on Elections.

This, after members of the Comelec en banc unanimously decided to extend the voter registration beyond its September 30, 2021 deadline, in response to public clamor and pressure from Congress.

In an online press briefing on Wednesday, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said there will be no voter registration during the one-week period set aside for the filing of Certificates of Candidacy (COC) from October 1 to 8, 2021.

He said voter registration will resume on October 11 to October 30, 2021.

“It will run from Monday to Friday. No Saturdays except October 30, which is the last day. For all cases it will be from 8 am to 5 pm,” Jimenez said.

Jimenez stressed all registration services will be offered during the said period contrary to what was previously reported that the extension may only cover new
registrants only.

He said overseas voter registration will also be extended from October 1 to 14, 2021.

“Note that for overseas voting, the filing of COCs is not an issue, thus the extension starts immediately,” Jimenez said.

Internal opposition

Prior to the announcement of the extension, Comelec held a management committee meeting to determine the feasibility of extension amid the Comelec’s tight schedule in its preparation for the polls next year.

Comelec Chairman Sheriff Abas said the proposal was rejected by their directors, but he said the Comelec en banc still decided to approve it in favor of the clamor from the public and lawmakers.

Members of the Senate and House of Representatives have been pushing the poll body to extend the voter registration to offset the long period of its suspension due to lockdowns in previous months.

To note, the Comelec en banc initially thumbed down the extension, citing the possible delay it will cause to the poll body’s preparation for 2022 polls, particularly for the printing of ballots.

Comelec needs the final list of voters, which must still be vetted and approved by the Election Registration Board (ERB), before it could start the printing, which should correspond to the final number of registered voters.

Extension reactions

Malacañang welcomed the extension since it will give people more time to cast their votes in the 2022 elections.

“Now that ample time is given, we call on all eligible voters, especially the youth, to register early, and not resort to last-minute registration, while adhering to minimum public health standards,” Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a brief statement.

Comelec data showed that as of September 18, 2021, there were already 61 million registered voters. Of which, 5.4 million are newly registered voters.

Labor advocate group, Defend Jobs Philippines, which was one of the groups which lobbied for it the extension, urged workers to avail themselves of the extension so they could vote for “pro-labor” candidate next year.

“The coming election is crucial for us to choose pro-labor candidates who will bring forward our just and legitimate aspirations in the halls of the bureaucracy,” Defend Jobs Philippines spokesperson Christian Lloyd Magsoy said in a statement.

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