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SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau

27 September 2021 07:02:32 PM

Speaker Lord Allan Velasco today hailed as “a major step to prevent voter disenfranchisement” the passage by the House of Representatives of the bill extending by one month the voter registration for the May 2022 national and local elections.

Velasco thanked his colleagues for supporting House Bill 10261 that he filed together with Majority Leader Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and Minority Leader Joseph Stephen Paduano.

With 193 affirmative votes, zero negative and zero abstention, House members approved on third and final reading the bill fixing the last day of voter registration to “30 days after the effectivity” of the proposed measure.

Once the bill is enacted into law, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) will be compelled to extend the voter registration period, which ends on September 30.

“We hope the Comelec will use the one-month extension to ramp up voter registration and ensure that more people can vote next year because we cannot afford to disenfranchise voters,” Velasco said.

The House chief recently urged the Comelec to exert all efforts to ensure that every Filipino can vote in the May 2022 elections.

He said the poll body should not allow the democratic process of election to be stalled by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has the potential to cause massive voter disenfranchisement.

“The right to vote in an election is one essential part of the democratic process, and Comelec is duty-bound to make sure that all eligible voters are able to register and exercise their right of suffrage,” Velasco said.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority show that 73 million voters are qualified to participate in the May 2022 polls.

The Comelec has reported that as of last August 23, there are around 61 million registered voters in the country. This could mean that there are still around 12 million eligible Filipinos who have yet to register.

Velasco strongly believes that the extension of voter registration would prevent “massive voter disenfranchisement” given the “extraordinary circumstances” brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Velasco, the six-month suspension of voter registration during the height of the pandemic in 2020 prevented a lot of Filipinos from taking the crucial first step in participating in the May 2022 polls.

He noted that registrations were suspended further in 2021 as the nation was placed under different community quarantine classifications. #