The House of Representatives’ committee on suffrage and electoral reforms has approved a consolidated measure, including a bill by House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez requiring the government to adopt an online system for voter registration amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Since the urgency of the online registration is something we really want to pass... [my] vote will be 'yes' [to approving the substitute bill]," Negros Occidental Rep. Juliet Marie Ferrer said.
The committee being led by Ferrer has endorsed for plenary action the substitute bill to House Bills 69, 578, 7063, 7411 and 7746 with the title "An Act strengthening the procedure for registration of voters and adopting a system of online registration, amending purpose certain sections of Republic Act 8189, otherwise known as the Voter’s Registration Act of 1996."
“COVID-19 has brought numerous obstacles over the efforts of the Commission on Elections to secure voters' registration. Public health considerations and existing protocols have led to the Comelec's suspension of its physical voter registration efforts," Romualdez said.
He authored HB 7063 with the late Senior Citizens party-list Rep. Francisco Datol Jr.
“With no immediate end for the COVID-19 pandemic in sight, it is believed that rather than wait for the pandemic to end, the Comelec should be pro-active and adopt innovative measures, such as online voters' registration, to facilitate voters' registration during the COVID-19 pandemic and for it to continually fulfill its mandate of protecting the Filipinos' right of suffrage," Romualdez said.
HB 7063 seeks to amend RA 8184 or the Voter’s Registration Act of 1996 to ensure an “enabling environment" for people to register as voters amid the pandemic crisis.
“By adopting a system for online voter’s registration, we do not just make our electoral system more resilient to unexpected calamities, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, but also create a system that provides the Filipino electorate and our government an efficient, convenient and cost-effective mechanism for voter’s registration in the long term,” Romualdez said.
"The application for registration shall contain three specimen signatures of the applicant, clear and legible rolled prints of his left and right thumbprints, with four identification size copies of his latest photograph, submitted personally or through electronic means, attached thereto to be taken at the expense of the commission,” the bill says.