THE CORONAVIRUS pandemic is no excuse to postpone the 2022 national and local elections, the President’s spokesperson said on Friday after a deferment was proposed by a lawmaker.
“We must not use the existing global health crisis as a ground to cancel and reschedule the elections as this would not sit well with the public,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque said in a statement.
Pampanga 2nd District Representative Juan Miguel M. Arroyo, in a House hearingon Thursday, saidthe polls should be postponed if the health crisis persists by then.
Commission on Elections (Comelec) officials, in the same forum,asserted that the polls can push through as scheduled with new protocols already being discussed such as extending the voting period to more than one day to avoid crowding at the precincts.
Mr. Roque said the government has “sufficient time to prepare” for the elections and postponing this “presents constitutional challenges.”
The National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) also issued a statement Friday opposing a postponement.
“Postponing the elections violates the Constitution, contravenes the principle of regularity in the conduct of an election, extends the terms of elected officials without being elected anew, and deprives the electorate of seeking accountability from elected officials through the ballot,” NAMFREL said.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon, meanwhile, said the legislature will ensure that Comelec will have the budget for adjustments needed to hold the elections amid a health threat.
“We will provide Comelec with sufficient funds to set up mitigating measures in case the pandemic lasts until that time,” he said in an interview with CNN Philippines. — Gillian M. Cortez and Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza