A local Commission on Elections (Comelec) office in the town of Malabang, Lanao del Sur challenged the mayor’s order for the poll body to suspend voter registration there despite the relaxed lockdown restriction imposed in the province.
Malabang Mayor Mohamad Yahya Macapodi had supposedly ordered the Office of the Election Officer (OEO) to stop satellite registration activities due to an uptick in COVID-19 cases, and cited a policy by the Malabang Interagency Task Force (IATF) that prohibited mass gatherings until September 15.
But acting election officer Samirah Omar, in her formal reply, said the local Comelec office cannot defy Comelec en banc guidelines which noted that voter registration is allowed in areas under general community quarantine or modified GCQ.
“Lanao Del Sur, including the municipality of Malabang, is under MGCQ status following Resolution no. 08 (series of 2021) issued by Lanao del Sur Interagency Task Force (IATF),” Omar wrote in a letter obtained by Rappler through a reputable source.
“Thus, I have no option but to comply with this Comelec En Banc guidelines, notwithstanding your office’s issuance,” she added.
She also challenged the Malabang IATF policy, saying that national IATF guidelines allowed up to 50% venue capacity for mass gatherings in areas under MGCQ.
Rappler has reached out to Macapodi’s camp, as well as the main office of Comelec, for its side of the story. This article will be updated once they have replied.
The incident comes weeks before the September 30 voter registration deadline.
Local Comelec offices in areas under less stringent lockdown restrictions have been ramping up efforts to encourage voter applicants to participate in the 2022 polls. Comelec has been hampered by the repeated suspension of voter registration in areas with stricter community quarantine protocols. – Rappler.com