Comelec's no extension rule to help end 'last minute' mentality

MANILA, Philippines – With the voters' registration period ending Saturday night, October 31, those who failed to make the cut hoped that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) would give in to calls to extend the process by a few more months.

As far as the Comelec is concerned, however, its decision not to extend the registration period is final, said its spokesman, James Jimenez, late Saturday night.

On the last day of registration, Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista stood firm on the commission's decision against an extension, as thousands made the last-minute effort to stand in long queues at Comelec offices to secure their participation in the 2016 elections.

Bautista said in a radio interview on Saturday morning that voters had a year and a half to fulfill their registration requirements.

"Talaga naming hindi tayo nagkulang sa ating panawagan sa mga botante na magparegister (We were not remiss in reminding our voters to register)," he said.

Bautista went around some Comelec offices in Manila, Caloocan, and Quezon City to check the process that day. He said the Comelec employees did a good job and tried to serve the people as best as they could.

Meanwhile, Jimenez patiently responded to questions and rants on Twitter throughout the day, particularly from those complaining about the hassles expected of the last day of registration. He asked them the same question: "Why late?"

'Eye opener'

Former senator Panfilo Lacson said in a statement on Saturday that the Comelec's firm decision not to extend the voters' registration period would help end the "last-minute mentality" of many Filipinos.

Lacson said the Comelec had already undertaken several measures to give Filipinos enough chances to register properly. (READ: Comelec open to voters' reg on Saturdays, holidays)

"While there may be some Filipino voters who have legitimate reasons to miss the deadline, the Comelec's decision not to extend the registration beyond October 31 should be an eye-opener for many who delayed until the last minute," he said.

"We Filipinos have many admirable traits that we inherited from our forefathers, but attending to our responsibilities as citizens of this country at the last minute is definitely not one of them. The do-it-at-the-last-minute attitude may probably be a contributory factor to slow economic growth, missed and lost opportunities and the like," he added.

Youth groups had filed a petition before the Supreme Court on October 29, seeking to extend the voters' registration period to January 8, 2016. –