Students from the Ateneo de Manila University and De La Salle University slammed the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) decision to junk the extension of voter registration for the May 2022 national and local elections.
In a joint statement, Ateneans for 1Sambayan and 1Samabayan Lasalyano stressed that it “underestimates our context in the COVID-19 pandemic” due to health concerns, lack of public transportation and curfews.
“Voting is an integral part of the democratic process, serving as an avenue of the people’s will. To deprive millions of potential voters the chance of deciding their country’s future borders on voter suppression,” it said.
The groups urged Comelec to extend the voter registration period “for the sake of respecting people’s will.”
“We urge you to consider the restrictions that the pandemic has brought upon millions of Filipinos and to make voting more accessible to everyone. You are an independent commission, mandated by the constitution, to uphold the people’s will,” the statement added.
The groups also called on other students to reach out to their local representatives and the Comelec “to make their voice heard.”
“The youth must have a zeal for service to truly become persons for others. 1Samabayan Lasalyano and Ateneans for 1Sambayan call for more time and consideration for our fellow Filipinos during this pivotal time in our history,” the statement further said.
“An extra hour is not enough to decide our future,” it continued.
Last August 19, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said that the commission decided to refrain from extending the voter registration period due to “operational concerns, particularly timelines associated with the 2022 national elections.”
“The commission is concerned that if we delay the end of voter registration it will also cause corresponding delays in all other preparatory activities, especially those that depend on the finalization of the list of voters,” he said in a virtual conference.
Instead, the Comelec approved the extension of voter registration hours up to 7 p.m.
Filipinos can also sign up on Saturdays and during holidays in the remaining registration period.
To date, there are more than 60 million voters less than a year before next year’s general elections.
Voter registration will end on September 30.