Comelec eyes 2-day elections in 2022

By: Melvin Gascon - Philippine Daily Inquirer | September 25,2020 - 07:31 AM

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is preparing to hold the May 9, 2022, over two or more days if the prevailing coronavirus pandemic has not been contained at that time.

Bartolome Sinocruz Jr., Comelec executive director, said the poll body was now drafting plans for the 2022 elections in case no vaccine has proven to be effective when the country holds the presidential elections in 2022.

“Although we are aware that the date of the elections is set by the Constitution, we can hold elections on May 9, and have it on another day or two, which is the same as extending the election hours,” he said.

The new election setup in 2022 is being patterned after what the Comelec intends to do in the upcoming plebiscite for the division of Palawan into three provinces, which takes into account health protocols set by the government under the new normal, Sinocruz said.

Sinocruz made the pronouncement in response to queries from lawmakers on the plans the Comelec is drafting on activities for the upcoming 2022 elections, which include the registration of voters and filing of certificates of candidacies next year.

House briefing

Comelec officials faced the House of Representatives to brief lawmakers on its proposed P14.6-billion budget for 2021, as contained in the National Expenditure Program.

Agusan del Norte Rep. Lawrence Fortun asked whether the Comelec has considered in its 2021 budget the possible changes in the conduct of election-related activities for the 2022 polls, including the continuing voter registration and the filing of candidacies next year.

Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel Arroyo also hinted that the Comelec should “seriously consider” postponing the 2022 elections, amid concerns that a vaccine may still not be available by then, and voters may be scared to go out to the polling places to cast their vote.

“But the initiative should come from the Comelec and not us in Congress because we might be accused of trying to prolong our term,” he said.

Among the reforms that the Comelec is set to impose include the reduction in the number of voters in every precinct at any given time, from 12 persons to five.

Process under study

“We would also have to regulate the entry of voters in polling centers, and we plan to set up voters’ assistance desks that will help people locate their designated precincts,” Sinocruz said.

According to Comelec Chair Sheriff Abas, who has downplayed suggestions that the 2022 elections be postponed, the poll body has forged partnerships with election bodies in countries such as South Korea and the United States to learn and adapt the “best [election] practices.”

Candidates will vie for a total of 18,084 positions in the upcoming elections, including the President and Vice President, according to House officials.

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