Postponing 2022 elections a violation of the Constitution â senators, lawyer
File photo shows Filipino voters participating in an election.
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Postponing 2022 elections a violation of the Constitution — senators, lawyer
Bella Perez-Rubio (Philstar.com) - September 25, 2020 - 1:32pm

MANILA, Philippines — Three senators and a prominent lawyer strongly rejected a proposal in the House of Representatives to postpone the upcoming 2022 elections. 

"Cancelling 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,” Sen. Ping Lacson told reporters. 

"Thus, any discussion or debate on this issue is an exercise in futility, if not a waste of time and energy,” he added. 

Senate President Tito Sotto similarly warned against the proposal, telling News5: "The idea presents a number of controversial and unconstitutional issues." 

"To name a few, who will hold over their positions? If not, who will appoint their replacements? The tenure of elected government officials is fixed," he further explained. 

The senators offered these resounding dismissals after Rep. Mikey Arroyo (Pampanga) on Thusrsday said the government's polling body should consider postponing the 2022 elections amid the COVID-19 crisis. 

During the budget hearing of the Commission on Elections, the son of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo argued that the general public would still be terrified of the pandemic two years down the road. He said this 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.

'Other nations have successfully conducted elections amid the pandemic'

Meanwhile, Sen. Imee Marcos, also brushed off Arroyo's proposal, citing other nations' ability to proceed with their elections amid the COVID-19 crisis. 

"We abide by the Constitution and proceed with the elections in 2022. After all, several countries have conducted elections during this pandemic," she told reporters. 

However, Marcos suggested making adjustment to better address the difficulties posed by the pandemic. 

"We should explore all possible scenarios: three-day in-person recommendation of Comelec, expanded early voting, mail-in ballots and, even in select cases, livestream online voting. No doubt there are issues with every mode of voting, but the voice of the people must be heard," the daughter of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos said. 

Lawyer Chel Diokno, the founding dean of De La Salle University’s College of Law, similarly chided lawmakers at the House for making the suggestion, further accusing them of seeking to extend their time in office.  

"Other countries have found a way to continue and secure elections. I hope our representatives in Congress can think of a solution, instead of how to extend themselves to office," he tweeted in Filipino. 

"Elections are the foundation of our democracy, and they must continue according to the law," he said. 

Former Comelec Commissioner Gregorgio Larrazabal also took issue with the suggestion, citing 40 other countries which he said successfully held elections amid the pandemic, such as Russia, Singapore, Iceland and South Korea. 

"If they can do it, why can't we?" Larrazabal said in an interview with ANC on Friday. 

"It doesn't make sense that the elections is over a year from now and we're already talking about postponing it," he added 

The Commission on Elections said on Friday that it sees no need to postpone the 2022 national polls, as it is already preparing for a scenario where voting will happen in the middle of a pandemic. — with reports from Franco Luna and James Relativo

2022 ELECTIONS
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