The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said that it is already preparing for the conduct of the national elections in 2022, saying that it sees no need to postpone the elections because of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
“As far as Comelec is concerned, given na by 2022 may pandemya pa rin. Iyan ang pinaka-basis ng aming paghahanda – na kailangan nating mag-ingat kasi sa 2022 sa panahon ng halalan, mayroon at mayroong pandemya. And in fact, ine-expect natin na wala pa dyan effective distribution ng vaccine [As far as the Comelec is concerned, it is given that by 2022 there is still a pandemic. That is the very basis of our preparation – that we need to be careful because during the 2022 elections there will still be a pandemic. And in fact, we also expect that there is still no effective distribution of vaccine by that time],” said Comelec spokesman James Jimenez during a radio interview on Thursday.
“At this point we don't see a need for it (postponement), hindi nakikita yung pangangailangan [At this point we do not see a need for it (postponement), we do not see the need],” he added. 8
Jimenez said that they are currently studying proposals on how to safely conduct the elections amid the coronavirus pandemic. These include expanding the “alternative voting method” and the online filing of Certificates of Candidacy.
Senators and congressmen said postponing the May, 2022 national and local elections is unconstitutional.
“Just so it is clear, canceling or postponing the election to pave the way for the extension of the terms of office of the President, Vice President, 12 senators, district representatives as well as elected local government officials beyond June 30, 2022, is a clear violation of the Constitution,” Lacson said in a statement.
“Thus, any discussion or debate on this issue is an exercise in futility, if not a waste of time and energy,” the senator added.
Lacson, likewise, reminded the Comelec that extending the May 2022 elections a day or two before or after the dates specified under the Constitution may face a constitutional challenge before the Supreme Court.
“This is not to mention valid issues and concerns involving the security of the secrecy and sanctity of the ballot as also provided under the 1987 Constitution, as trending may occur if the ballots are not properly safeguarded,” he said.
Poll date enshrined in Constitution
He said the Constitution explicitly provides that the election for the members of Congress and local positions – except for barangay officials – occur every second Monday of every third year and that presidential and vice-presidential elections occur every second Monday of May every sixth year.
Also under the Constitution, Lacson pointed out “elected officials, except those at the barangay level, start (and end) their terms of office on 30 June of the election year.”
“At the end of the day, it is the Constitution that should guide all of us in this regard,” the lawmaker stressed.
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