Comelec won’t extend voters’ registration period
There will be no extension of the voters’ registration period beyond Oct. 31, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said, as any extension could derail the agency’s timeline for other preparations for the May 2016 national election.
“If it can be extended, we will do it. But at this point, we will stick to the deadline,” Comelec Chair Andres Bautista told the media at a forum held on Friday at the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) office in Intramuros, Manila.
Several civil society groups, among them the Samahan para sa Tunay na Eleksyon sa Pilipinas (Step) Coalition and the poll watchdog Legal Network for Truthful Elections (Lente), have asked Comelec to give the public an extra week to enlist for next year’s election.
Lente said a one-week extension of the voters’ registration would make up for the days lost to the filing of the Certificate of Candidacy (COC), which the Comelec had scheduled from Oct. 12 to 16.
“We are asking Comelec for another week…based on logic that since one week of registration will be lost to the filing of COCs, it is reasonable that another week be added to the registration period,” said Lente executive director Rona Anne Caritos.
Caritos added that the proposed extension from Nov. 1 to 7 would allow more students of voting age to enlist for the 2016 election since they will be on semestral break during those days.
“It’s the best time for students to register or have their biometrics taken since they are on vacation,” the Lente official said.
But Bautista said there were apprehensions in the election body that adjusting the registration period would affect its timeline for the May 2016 polls.
“It might affect our preparations especially with respect to the Project of Precincts and to the conduct of the Election Registration Board hearings,” he said.
Just the same, Bautista said, he’d bring up the groups’ appeal to the commission en banc. He also urged Lente and Step to help the Comelec in its public campaign on the importance of the voters’ registration and having their biometrics taken.
Comelec records indicated that 3.13 million voters have no biometrics data, which refers to the automated identification of an individual, particularly his or her photograph, fingerprint and signature.
According to Republic Act No. 10367 or the Mandatory Biometrics Registration Act of 2013, voters who fail to have their biometrics taken prior to the May 2016 election will not be allowed to vote, and their names expunged from the voters’ list.
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