Senate bill extending voter registration until October 31 approved on 2nd reading

Senate bill extending voter registration until October 31 approved on 2nd reading
This Feb. 4, 2021 photo shows voter registration at the Comelec office in Quezon City.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate on Wednesday approved on second reading a bill seeking to extend the voter registration period by a month, moving the looming September 30 deadline to October 31, 2021. 

Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri filed Senate Bill No. 2408 on Monday after the body agreed that the Commission on Elections needed to be compelled to move the deadline after its continued rejection of the proposal. 

Senators note in the measure that almost six months of the registration period was lost when the pandemic began and the country was under stringent lockdown. More days were lost too when areas were reverted back to enhanced community quarantine or modified ECQ. 

"Given the extraordinary circumstances of the pandemic, it is necessary to extend the voter registration, in order to give unregistered Filipinos of voting age ample time to register, and eventualiy exercise their constitutional right to vote," they said. 

The lawmakers also cited the Filipino people whom they said "have been clamoring for the extension" and cautioned against the "disenfranchisement of [a] large number of qualified voters." 

On August 31, Akbayan Youth along with more than 40 other groups and student organizations petitioned the poll body to extend the registration period and the pandemic task force to classify the activity as an essential one to allow the opening of more satellite locations. 

While their plea for an extension was rejected, Comelec announced the following day that registration would be allowed in areas under MECQ. 

A counterpart measure was filed by leaders at the lower house earlier Wednesday. — Bella Perez-Rubio 

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