The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Sunday said it had no plans of extending the voter registration period for the barangay (village) and Sangguniang Kabataan (youth council) elections, which ends on July 31.
“There will be no extension. Five o’clock in the afternoon of July 31 is the deadline,” Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. said in an interview with reporters, noting that there was no reason to prolong the 10-day registration period.
Brillantes said the Comelec had observed a high turnout of registrants at its offices nationwide, making it unnecessary to extend the process.
Earlier, the Comelec estimated that 700,000 people would register for the barangay elections on Oct. 28 while another two million young people, aged 15 to 17, would list up to vote for the youth councils.
Meanwhile, the election body said there was nothing wrong with reports of incumbent barangay officials bringing “hakot” (bussed in) registrants to Comelec offices in exchange for money, food and transportation.
Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said barangay officials doing this were not committing any illegal act as they were merely “assisting” their constituents.
“Technically speaking, we don’t see any problem in that regard. If you want to help your constituents by bringing them to the registration centers, that is fine,” Jimenez said.
However, barangay officials cannot interfere once the applicants they gathered are inside the Office of the Election Officer. “The rule of thumb is that barangay officials should not meddle in the registration process,” he said.
The Comelec also said it was prioritizing first-time voters in its registration. The poll body issued on Friday Resolution No. 9750 to allow registrants who are 18 years old on or before the Oct. 28 elections to queue in the express lane for the elderly, persons with disabilities and “heavily pregnant applicants.”—Jocelyn R. Uy and Philip C. Tubeza