The three-week extension for the registration of voters approved by the COMELEC En Banc from October 9 to October 30 for the 2022 May elections is way too short of the registration up to January 8, 2022 as mandated by Section 8 of R.A. No. 8189 establishing a system of continuing registration of voters.
Section 8 of R.A. No. 8189 unequivocally provides:
“The personal filing of application of registration of voters shall be conducted daily in the office of the Election Officer during regular office hours. No registration shall, however, be conducted during the period starting one hundred twenty (120) days before a regular election and ninety (90) days before a special election.” (Emphasis supplied).
Pursuant to R.A. No. 8189 which is subsisting and valid, the last day of the continuing registration for the 2022 elections is not October 30, 2021 but January 8, 2022, which is 120 days before the May 9, 2022 elections.
The continuing registration of voters under R.A. No. 8189 was upheld by the Supreme Court in the first case of Kabataan Partylist vs. COMELEC promulgated on December 15, 2009 in connection with the May 10, 2010 elections where the Supreme Court ruled that “the COMELEC is directed to proceed with dispatch in reopening the registration of voters and holding the same until January 9, 2010.”
The second case of Kabataan Partylist vs. COMELEC promulgated on December 16, 2015 held that the mandatory biometrics voter registration under R.A. No. 10367 complements the continuing registration under R.A. No. 8189.
With the voter’s registration ending on October 30, 2021, instead of January 8, 2022, potential registrants will lose about 10 weeks within which to register.
With this shortage of 10 weeks, more voters will still be disenfranchised and the 10 million voters still expected to register cannot all be registered.
The COMELEC has no discretion to disregard the mandate of the required system of continuing registration.
Given an allowance of 120 days before the election, the COMELEC has sufficient time to finish its pre-election activities, most of which will not be affected by the registration of voters.
EDCEL C. LAGMAN