THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) may extend its ongoing registration by another week if only to reduce the number of voters who are yet to register and undergo biometric validation to avoid being disenfranchised in the 2016 elections.
Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista announced the possible extension on Thursday after a roundtable discussion with leaders of the STEP (Samahan Para sa Tunay na Eleksyon sa Pilipinas) Coalition at the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) offices.
Bautista pointed out, though, that the extension would affect approved preparation timeline of the poll body in the run-up to next year’s polls.
“Mahihirapan [It will be difficult] but I will discuss it with the en banc,” he said.
STEP is a multi-stakeholder coalition that aims to ensure anyone eligible to vote gets to do so in the 2016 elections.
Registration and validation of voters started in May 2014 and would end on October 31, 2015.
The coalition, through lawyer Rona Ann Caritos, noted that there would be a five-day lull in registration because of the scheduled October 12 to 16 filing of certificates of candidacy (COC).
“It is even worth considering to extend the deadline of registration and validation for another week to make up for the week of October 12 to 16, if only to lessen further the number of disenfranchised voters,” it said.
The group suggested transferring the registration of students to their current place of residence near their schools because the May 9, 2016 polls fall on a school day for some colleges and universities that have shifted their academic calendar year
“If it would not be feasible for students to go home [to the province]to vote, they may consider transferring their registration record to their current place of residence,” it added but the suggestion got no response from the Comelec chief.
As of July 2015, Comelec records showed that some 3.7 million voters have either incomplete or no biometrics at all.
All voters are required by law to undergo biometric proceedings, otherwise they will not be allowed to vote in the 2016 local and national elections.
Region IV-A tops the list with 495,990 voters without biometrics data followed by the National Capital Region (NCR or Metro Manila) with 392,711; Region III, 341,755; Region V, 259,844; Region XI, 240,483; Region VII, 230,541; Region II, 174,024; Region VI, 136,274; Region VIII, 134,007; Region X, 132,906; Region XII, 132,882; Region IV-B, 187,230; Region 1, 156,194; Region IX, 94,659; Cordillera Administrative Region, 94,169; Caraga, 66,204; and Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, 166.
Also on the list are Cotabato City with 22,754 and Isabela City (Basilan) 6,157.