Comelec: New voters for barangay, SK polls reach 1M; extension unlikely

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 21) -- The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said an extension of the voter registration for the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections (BSKE) is unlikely after over a million individuals have registered.

"Bagamat nung una hindi kataasan agad yung nagparehistro sa atin noong mga unang araw ng Dec. 12, sa ngayon naman nakikita namin na tumataas na. Nakikita po namin na aabot na tayo sa ating target na minimum 1 million to 1.5 million," Comelec spokesperson Rex Laudiangco told CNN Philippines.

[Translation: While the number of registrants were low during the first few days since Dec. 12, we are now seeing an increase. Based on what we're seeing, we will reach our target of a minimum of 1 to 1.5 million.]

Laudiangco is confident the poll body will reach its target number of new registrants before the Jan. 31 deadline.

As of Jan. 14, Comelec has received 1,024,521 applications through its regular registration process. This figure does not include applicants from its Register Anywhere Project (RAP), which has already logged 4,691 registrants as of Jan. 20.

Laudiangco said the low turnout during the holidays was expected, but they anticipate an influx of registrants in the last few days.

"Ang ine-expect po namin na sa last ten days or sa last week mismo bubuhos ang ating mga kababayan sa aming mga registration sites. At mahihirapan po hindi lang kawani ng Comelec, kundi pati po sila dahil po sa haba ng pila at haba ng aabutin nila na paghihintay para sa pagrerehistro," he said.

[Translation: We are expecting more people to flock to our registration sites during the last ten days or the last week of registration. It will be difficult not just for Comelec staff, but for them as well, because of the long lines and long waiting time for registration.]

RELATED: Comelec: First day of voter registration resumption smooth so far

Comelec appeals to the public to head to voter registration sites before the deadline to avoid a repeat of what happened during the 2022 polls.

"Ngayon po batay sa aming pahayag pareho ni Chairman George Garcia, wala po kaming nakikitang extension sa ngayon dahil wala rin po kaming nakikitang dahilan. Isa pa po sa dahilan dito na nakabinbin po ang ating kaso sa Korte Suprema," he added.

[Translation: As of now, similar to what Chairman George Garcia said, we do not see the need for an extension because there is no reason for it. Another reason is the pending petition at the Supreme Court.]

Laudiangco said Comelec is awaiting the Supreme Court's ruling on the petition of veteran election lawyer Romulo Macalintal challenging the new law moving the BSKE to Oct. 30 this year.

Macalintal questioned the authority of Congress to move poll dates, saying the power to postpone elections is within the exclusive jurisdiction of Comelec.

But as they await the high court's ruling, Laudiangco said preparations continue for the BSKE, plebiscites, and the 2025 polls. Should the high court rule that the elections must be held earlier, extending the registration is not allowed.

RELATED: SC sets oral arguments on petition vs barangay polls' postponement

Comelec seeks to expand Register Anywhere Project after pilot run

Laudiangco said the poll body is looking at expanding the RAP in more regions for the next voter registration. The project is on its last weekend in select malls, schools, and government offices in Metro Manila, Bicol Region and Central Visayas.

"Nakita naman po natin how successful the pilot test is. So kung sakali man po magreresume po muli kami, although sa ngayon hindi pa namin nakikita na magkakaroon tayo ng extension, 'pag nag-resume po tayo makakaasa po kayo ng mas malawak na coverage ng Register Anywhere Project," he said.

[Translation: We saw how successful the pilot test is. So if ever we resume registration, although now we don't see an extension, Filipinos can count on a wider coverage of the Register Anywhere Project.]

The Department of Social Welfare and Development will be hosting a registration of voters on Jan. 23. The Senate will also be a RAP site on Jan. 25.

RAP sites began accepting voter applications on Dec. 17, operating every Saturday and Sunday. The project aims to serve workers and students who are unable to go home to provinces to complete their voter registration.

RELATED: Comelec to launch Register Anywhere Booths in NCR