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One-week Comelec extension ‘not enough’

Lawmakers see long queues, not enough time for voters to register

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An official of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has proposed a one-week extension of the voter registration period ending this month after the filing of the Certificates of Candidacy (CoC) from 1 to 8 of October.

Comelec Commissioner Marlon Casquejo floated the one-week extension during the joint congressional oversight committee hearing on the automated election system.

He said the poll body is aware of moves at the Senate and the House of Representatives to extend the voter registration period to 31 October.

Casquejo said they are willing to comply if Congress will pass a measure extending the registration period for a month. Many prospective registrants are being turned away at registration centers despite coming in as early as 5 a.m., reports say.

“The (Comelec) en banc has already ruled twice not to extend the registration. If that bill will be passed as a law, then we will comply,” Casquejo told lawmakers.

“But then again, our proposal is to give a one-week extension after the filing of the CoC,” he added, drawing a rejoinder from Senator Imee Marcos that the lawmakers’ proposal is for a month-long extension.

“The legislature’s request of one month is far from the one-week that you proposed. With the dynamic volume of queues, it’s far, it will not suffice,” Marcos said.

Casquejo argued that a longer extension would cause delays in other preparations for the 2022 polls.

Cavite 4th District Representative Elpidio Barzaga Jr. has proposed a two-week extension of the voters’ registration.

Meanwhile, Comelec said it will suspend the issuance of voter certification in all branches of the election officer from 27 to 30 September to dedicate the last week of voter registration solely for registration purposes.

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said this is to anticipate the big volume of last-minute registrants on or before the 30 September deadline.

“The Commission anticipates the influx of last-minute registrants as we get closer to the deadline. And given the limited number of field personnel, we must endeavor the full use of our limited manpower and resources in catering to applicants for voter registration,” Jimenez said.

The issuance of voter certification in the Comelec main office in Intramuros will not be affected. The applicant must present a valid ID and submit a photocopy of the same ID, and pay P75 fee to apply for a voter’s certification.

The voter certification is free of charge for senior citizens, persons with disabilities, members of indigenous peoples and solo parents.

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