TOP leaders of the House of Representatives have filed a bill extending the registration of voters for the May 2022 national and local elections by a month or until October 31 this year.
House Bill (HB) No. 10261—filed by Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, Majority Leader Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and — seeks to compel the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to extend the Sept. 30, 2021 deadline for voter registration.
The House leaders said the extension of voter registration would prevent “massive voter disenfranchisement” brought about by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
“At a time of uncertainty, each and every office of the government is tasked to be flexible and alert,” the House leaders said in the bill’s explanatory note.
“In order to avoid massive disenfranchisement, the Comelec must extend the period for voter registration until 31 October 2021. This is also to give leeway to Filipinos whose registration were delayed because of the prevailing circumstances,” they added.
With barely eight months before the 2022 general elections, the House leaders said it is important that every qualified Filipino will be able to cast a ballot and vote for the country’s next leaders.
The conduct of regular elections, they said, 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 added.
According to the House leaders, voter registration would have been an ordinary concern if there had been no pandemic.
“But we are living under extraordinary circumstances,” they pointed out. “The public health crisis has been prolonged and many prospective voters have been forced to delay their registration this year and in 2020.”
The bill was referred to the House committee on suffrage and electoral Reforms during Wednesday’s session.