Comelec suspends voter registration in 'NCR Plus' during ECQ

Voter registration services for the 2022 national elections are suspended in the Greater Manila Area or "NCR Plus" from Monday, March 29 to Friday, April 2 during the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ), the Duterte administration's most stringent lockdown measure.

The ECQ in the National Capital Region, as well as the provinces of Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna, and Cavite, will be in effect until April 4, coinciding with Holy Week.

“Due to the re-imposition of ECQ, work in COMELEC offices in NCR Plus including filing/reception of applications for voter registration and other registration services shall be suspended from March 29 to 31, 2021,” Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said in a tweet.

“No voter registration services also on April 1 and 2. We will get through this together,” he added in a mix of English and Filipino.

The suspension came a week after Comelec was compelled to shorten its voter registration hours due to the unprecedented spike in COVID-19 cases in the Philippines.

As of Sunday, the Philippines is dealing with over 105,000 active COVID-19 cases after the Department of Health logged 9,000 fresh infections for three straight days.

Resorting to electronic means

Jimenez added that Comelec will utilize "e-filing" to minimize the pandemic’s impact on the agency’s preparations for the 2022 polls.

Before the suspension of voter registration services, Comelec advised the public to accomplish forms and set appointments on the poll body’s iRehistro site.

Jimenez said political parties and party-list groups can continue to file petitions for registration or manifestations of intent to participate in the 2022 elections before Comelec during the same period.

Party-list group Kabataan said on March 26 it filed its manifestation of intent to join next year’s polls before Comelec both electronically and via courier.

“The filing of petitions for registration of party-list organizations and political parties, as well as the filing of manifestations of intent to participate, will continue despite the imposition of ECQ on NCR Plus,” Jimenez said.

How many first-time voters have registered for 2022?

During her confirmation hearing on March 24, Comelec Commissioner Aimee Ferolino-Ampoloquio said that more than 2.4 million of the 4 million first-time voters in the country have already registered for the 2022 elections.

Meanwhile, only 300,000 out of the 3 million Filipinos who failed to vote in the past two elections have re-activated their data, she added.

Comelec previously asserted that voter registration is an essential activity despite the surge in coronavirus cases.

The registration period ends on September 30, 2021. – Rappler.com