Philippine Vice President and opposition leader Leni Robredo added her voice to the mounting calls for the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to give Filipinos more time to register for the high-stakes 2022 elections.
In her weekly radio show on DZXL on Sunday, September 19, Robredo called on the poll body to extend voter registration by one month or until October 31, citing the “extraordinary circumstances” caused by the raging coronavirus pandemic.
Filipinos have until September 30 to register for the 2022 polls, which would elect the successor of President Rodrigo Duterte.
“May mga kababayan tayo na mahilig sa last minute, ‘di ba? Pero yung sa akin lang, extraordinary kasi yung circumstances eh,” Robredo told her co-anchor Ely Saludar.
(We have countrymen who love to do things at the last minute, right? But for me, we're under extraordinary circumstances right now.)
“Naiintindihan natin ‘yung Comelec kasi dahil digitized yung election, kailangan talagang gumalaw na sila, kailangan talagang ayusin na nila lahat so kailangan maglagay ng deadline. Pero baka naman puwede, Ka Ely, possible na i-delay pa siya for another month para lang siguradong makahabol ‘yung mga hindi pa nakaka-rehistro,” added the Vice President.
(We understand that because our elections are digitized, Comelec needs to move fast and fix everything; that’s why they need to impose a deadline. But perhaps, Ka Ely, it would be possible to delay the deadline for another month just to make sure those who have not registered can still do so.)
Advocates argued the deadline should be extended because the poll body had to suspend the voter registration period for five and a half months in 2020 when parts of the Philippines were first put under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), the strictest form of lockdown in the country.
Comelec later passed a resolution that mandated the suspension of voter registration in areas placed under ECQ or the less strict modified ECQ.
In a bid to allow more Filipinos to register before the September 30 deadline, Comelec has decided to extend voter registration hours and has opened registration areas in shopping malls.
Robredo herself is mulling over a potential presidential run in 2022, though she is suffering from low preference ratings so far.
The Vice President said there are two things that would push her to seek the presidency: being chosen as the standard-bearer of a united opposition or the presidential bid of her rival and the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos's son, Bongbong. – Rappler.com
Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at email@example.com or tweet @maracepeda.