Drilon calls Comelec refusal to extend voter registration a clear caseof voter suppression

Drilon calls Comelec refusal to extend voter registration a clear case
of voter suppression

By Ernie Reyes

MANILA — Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon lambasted the
Commission on Election’s continued refusal to extend the voter
registration, saying it is tantamount to voter suppression.

In a statement, Drilon said that the Comelec budget is right now held in abeyance
until voter registration is resolved

“It is a clear voter suppression regulation. You suppress the right of
the voter to vote. That is a cardinal sin in our democratic system of
government,” said Drilon at the Senate hearing on the proposed budget
of the poll body for 2022.

“The refusal to extend the registration period is clearly a regulation
to suppress the right to vote,” Drilon said in a separate statement.

Drilon moved to defer the budget of the Comelec until the issue is resolved.

The Comelec cited its resolution fixing the calendar for voter registration.

But Drilon, a former justice secretary, said the Comelec resolution is
“illegal” as it is clear in the law that the voter’s registration
should be conducted daily until 120 days before a regular election.

“Strictly speaking, a qualified voter is given until January 8, 2022
or 120 days before the May 2022 elections to register. Therefore, the
request of Congress to extend the voter’s registration by 30 days is
consistent with Section 8 of RA 8189,” Drilon explained.

Section 8 of Republic Act No. 8189 states that “The personal filing of
application of registration of voters shall be conducted daily in the
office of the Election Officer during regular office hours. No
registration shall, however, be conducted during the period starting
one hundred twenty (120) days before a regular election and ninety
(90) days before a special election.”

“Your reliance on your own resolution is out of place. In my humble
opinion, it is illegal and a violation of the Constitution and the
decisions of the Supreme Court interpreting election laws,” Drilon
said.

“I am saddened by the statement of the Comelec na kung may pondo lang
ang extension ibibigay po namin iyan. It is not for you to give.
Karapatan ng taumbayan na magrehistro at bumoto. Nagpasya ang
Kongreso. There is no discretion granted to you by Congress,” Drilon
emphasized.

The Senate had recently adopted a resolution urging the Comelec to
extend the deadline for voter registration.

Drilon appealed to the Comelec to reconsider its decision given that
the pandemic has made it difficult for voters to register.

The Comelec is asking Congress for a P4.307 billion regular budget for

  1. This is on top of the P13.63 billion allocated for the conduct
    of the national and local elections next year.

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