Ex-poll commissioner appeals to Comelec: Allow voter registration in MECQ areas

Jauhn Etienne Villaruel, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 30 2021 02:14 PM | Updated as of Aug 30 2021 04:40 PM

The Comelec office in Manila.
The Comelec office in Manila. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA (UPDATE) — Former Commission on Elections (Comelec) commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal on Monday formally asked the poll body to amend its resolution in order to allow voter registration in areas under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).

Under Comelec guidelines in effect, voter registration is only allowed in places with general community quarantine (GCQ) status.

"To date, the number of new registrants is much, much lower than desired and there are thousands more who are willing to reactivate their voter registration in the hope of being able to vote in the upcoming national and local elections," Larrazabal said in a letter addressed to incumbent Comelec commissioners. 

While Comelec has repeatedly said it has reached its target of 60 million registered voters, several groups said that based on Philippine Statistics Authority data, 73 million Filipinos are qualified to vote by May 2022 elections. 

Larrazabal argued that under IATF rules, government agencies in areas under MECQ may be allowed to augment on-site capacity as long as it provides "critical services."

"[A]s our democracy is anchored on the Right of Suffrage protected by no less than our Constitution, it is my humble submission that the Comelec, by analogy, is also an institution which provides not only essential, but critical services at this point in time," Larrazabal said.

Voter registration for the May 2022 elections is set to end on September 30.

Comelec has been urged to extend the registration period but refused, citing potential operational delays. 

However, the poll body as a compromise expanded the voter registration hours.

Comelec has yet to issue a reaction to Larrazabal's appeal when sought for comment.

On Saturday, the government extended the MECQ status of Metro Manila and 15 other areas until Sept. 7, giving qualified voters less time to register.

Comelec commissioner Marlon Casquejo told ABS-CBN News last week that they already sought exemption from the IATF to allow voter registration in areas under stricter community quarantine classifications.

"As much as we wanted to cater [to] all those applicants who have yet to register, but then we are limited with our registration because of the IATF guidelines, but we are still seeking exemption during ECQ and MECQ to allow Comelec to do registrations," Casquejo said. 

—With a report from Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News