Citing murmurs on COVID-19 fears, congressman suggests poll postponement

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
Citing murmurs on COVID-19 fears, congressman suggests poll postponement
This undated 2016 photo shows the Commission on Elections office at the Palacio del Gobernador in Intramuros, Manila.
Philstar.com / AJ Bolando

MANILA, Philippines — The government's polling body should consider postponing the 2022 elections amid the coronavirus quarantine, Rep. Mikey Arroyo (Pampanga) said Thursday. 

Speaking at the budget hearing of the Commission on Elections, the son of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said that the general public would still be terrified of the pandemic by then and would result in few people being able to register to vote, along with other possible logistical lapses. 

The country's next presidential elections are slated to take place in May 2022, during which 18,084 seats will be open to candidates across the country including that of the President, the Comelec highlighted at the hearing. 

"I've been hearing in my district, the businessmen, the old people, they're saying maybe they would just not vote because they're scared to vote during that day. That's just food for thought and the COMELEC may choose to answer that or not," Arroyo said. 

"I've been doing my share of reading on this pandemic, and it seems that the earliest time we can realistically get a vaccine for everybody in our country will be September of October next year, assuming nothing goes wrong. Are we relying on that?" he also said. 

In response to Arroyo's assertion, Comelec chairman Sheriff Abas said that the ball is with Congress and President Rodrigo Duterte should they decide to push for a postponement. 

Former Comelec commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal wrote in a tweet later that day: "There is no reason to postpone the elections. Other countries have had elections already."

"Added to this, the term of office of ALL elected officials will end on June 30, 2022, as mandated by the 1987 Constitution. You CANNOT extend the term of office of elected officials."

President Rodrigo Duterte continues to assert in his speeches, most recently before world leaders at the 75th United Nations General Assembly, that a coronavirus vaccine is the only solution for the Philippines moving forward.

As of the health department's latest case bulletin, 296,755 cases of the new pathogen have been documented in the Philippines since it first emerged in December. 

"I'm just voicing out the murmurs and rumors and bulong-bulongs I hear around me not only among my constituency but all over...for the enlightenment of everybody," Arroyo said. 

— with reports from News5

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