By Deighton Acuin

PHOTO: Philippine Daily Inquirer

The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) said it is not closing its doors over possible voters’ registration deadline extension for the upcoming 2022 national elections.

During the Senate Electoral Reforms Committee hearing, COMELEC Commissioner Marlon Casquejo said the statement but later added that extending the September 30 deadline will trigger its tight preparation schedule.

“We are not closing doors. What I am saying is it will be a very, very tight schedule for us in our timeline. Ang daming apektado from the configuration [of machines] to everything. But again, we will look into that situation,” he said.

Cascuejo was responding to the suggestion raised by Senator Francis Pangilinan to extend the registration period by at least 30 days.

Raising the suggestion, Pangilinan said the filing of certificate of candidacy in October would help in campaigning to urge more Filipinos to get themselves registered for the next year’s elections.

“Here we are trying to come up with an information dissemination campaign so that people will register. Your biggest information dissemination campaign is when the candidates start filing because doon ngayon magkakaroon ng greater awareness,” Pangilinan said.

Citing projections from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), COMELEC said there will be 73 million Filipinos aged 18 and above by year 2022.

With 58 million registrants by January, Pangilinan pointed out that this means there are 15 million individuals who have yet to be counted for the 2022 polls.

“If it is just a matter of 30 days extension or 45 days extension, I think the Comelec should consider this. Because precisely you have 15 million estimated who are not registered, so every step at getting them to register should be taken into consideration,” said the senator.

“That’s the least we can do, accommodate more time to register,” he added.

In a bid to increase the number of aspiring registrants, COMELEC earlier made an adjustment of Tuesdays to Saturdays registration schedule from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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