THE voter registration period for the May 2022 elections will be extended, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) en banc unanimously decided Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021.
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said voter registration will end as scheduled on Thursday, Sept. 30, but will resume on Oct. 11, not Oct. 9 as announced earlier by a Comelec official. It will continue until Oct. 30, 2021.
Jimenez said voter registration in October will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday to Friday. There will be no registration services on Saturdays, except on Oct. 30, which is the last day.
Registration of overseas voters is also extended for two weeks, from Oct. 1 to 14.
“Note that for overseas voting, the filing of COCs (certificates of candidacy) is not an issue, thus the extension starts immediately,” Jimenez said.
Filing of COCs is scheduled for Oct. 1 to 8.
Local Comelec officials in Cebu Province, and in the highly urbanized cities of Cebu and Mandaue urged voter applicants not to wait for the last day.
“Hopefully, they will take advantage of the extended days of registration and should not wait for the last day,” Cebu Provincial Election Supervisor Lionel Marco Castillano said.
He said the voters may register either at the Comelec offices or at the off-site registration sites in the malls.
As of Sept. 28, Cebu had 3,217,986 total registered voters.
In Cebu City north district, Election Officer Chaunsey Boholst said they still have to negotiate with mall administrators for the extension of registration services in malls. Registration activities will definitely continue in Comelec offices.
He was optimistic, however, that the malls would continue to allow the use of their facilities for voter registration.
“I think we can continue in the malls because they are receptive and are willing to sponsor the space for registration services,” Boholst said.
He said they were still awaiting the written order from the central office on the extension. It was expected to be issued Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 29.
He said Comelec Cebu City is ready for the extension, but said this would be an extra challenge for the personnel. He estimated that the number of applicants ballooned to 900 a day in the last few days from only about 200 a day a few months ago.
“We trust the wisdom of the Comelec en banc. This will put pressure on us, but we’ll do our best,” he added.
As of Sept. 28, the number of new voters in Cebu City north district reached 15,500 while the total number of registered voters as of June 30 was 317,119.
In Mandaue City, Executive Secretary to the Mayor John Eddu Ibañez said they were grateful for the extension because only a few people could be accommodated in Comelec offices in compliance with the physical distancing protocol.
Aside from the Comelec site located on the left side of the Mandaue City Sports Complex, Ibañez said the Comelec-Mandaue is also providing registration services in the malls.
Registration activities are being held at the second floor of J Centre Mall from Sept. 28 to Sept. 30.
On its Facebook page, Comelec Mandaue posted that 645 voters registered in J Centre Mall and two applications for reactivation processed online.
To be prioritized in the registration, the Comelec Mandaue urged the registrants to book an appointment first via its Facebook page.
House of Representatives Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said around 12 million voters have not registered, based on the Philippine Statistics Authority data showing there are 73 million voters qualified to participate in the May 2022 elections, and Comelec data showing only 61 million had registered as of Aug. 23. (SunStar Philippines, WBS, KFD)