Comelec urged to reopen overseas voter registration in select areas

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said on Monday, October 18, that it will tackle appeals to extend overseas voter registration in select areas.

Comelec Chairman Sheriff Abas made the statement during a Senate finance panel hearing on the poll body's proposed 2022 budget, after Senator Imee Marcos said many overseas Filipino workers were unaware that Thursday, October 14, was the last day of overseas voter registration.

"I was urging the Comelec, if possible, and I reiterate this plea, that we extend for at least two weekends in the most populous, and consulates with the most Filipinos, and allow our overseas workers to vote," Marcos said.

"We will put it in the agenda this week. We'll discuss whether we can stretch the deadline for overseas voting," Abas replied in a mix of English and Filipino.

"It's a good idea to cater only to their version of Metro Manila, the places where the most number of people have yet to register."

The development came after some Philippine offices overseas dealt with long lines of last-minute registrants on Thursday.

The Comelec previously moved the voter registration deadline from September 30 to October 30, in the wake of public clamor and after lawmakers forced its hand.

President Rodrigo Duterte also signed a measure which ultimately extended voter registration until end-October. That law made no distinction between local and overseas registration, prompting some overseas groups to argue that registration abroad should also last until the end of the month.

On Friday, October 15, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said the difference in extension periods was "necessary and due to the unique circumstances of overseas voting."

Jimenez argued that preparations for the monthlong period have a "much tighter timetable."

The Comelec said in June it was aiming to register 1.6 million overseas Filipinos for the 2022 elections. –