The Commission on Elections yesterday unanimously ruled en banc that there will be no extension to the registration of voters, COMELEC chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said.
Registration of voters for the October 28 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections ended at 5 p.m. yesterday, he said.
COMELEC spokesman James Jimenez said the decision was reached despite the clamor for an extension because the COMELEC needs to complete the full process for registration for all applicants by August 31.
“With more than a million new applicants, the timetables are too tight,” he added.
Jessie Suarez, Negros Occidental provincial elections supervisor, said there was a huge turn-out of new registrants provincewide but exact figures were not available as of press time.
Until yesterday afternoon, election offices were crowded with people wanting to register to vote, he said.
In Bacolod City, some residents who wanted to make sure they could register yesterday, slept at the BAYS Center the night before.
Way past the closing time at 5 p.m. yesterday, the Bacolod COMELEC was still processing registrants to vote.
Bacolod Elections Officer Mavil Majarucon-Sia said she had issued 750 numbers for SK voter registrants and 600 for barangay election registrants yesterday.
She lamented the fact that some claimed to have numbers issued by the police and by barangay officials. We only honored the holders of COMELEC-issued numbers, she said.
When the Bacolod COMELEC registration ended last night, its total number of voters registered in the last 10 days for the SK polls were 5,165 and 5,211 for regular voting, she said.
The long lines of registrants caused by the short period allotted for the registration for the barangay and SK elections is a systemic problem that has to be addressed by legislative action, Suarez said.
Holding two elections in one year gives the COMELEC very little time to prepare for the SK and barangay elections, he said.
This could be the same problem that will be encountered in 2016 when the national elections, and the SK and barangay polls are held on the same year again, unless legislative action is taken, he added.*CPG