Malacañang: COVID-19 pandemic should not be used to push for election postponement

Malacañang: COVID-19 pandemic should not be used to push for election postponement
This undated file photo shows presidential spokesperson Harry Roque.
The STAR / Joven Cagande, file

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Friday said that the COVID-19 pandemic should not be used to push for the postponement of the 2022 national elections.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement that the current public health crisis must not be used as a ground to move the holding of the next elections.

“The holding of elections is a public service that the government must ensure to deliver,” Roque said, as he stressed that postponing it would not sit well with the public.

Rep. Mikey Arroyo (Pampanga) on Thursday urged the Commission on Elections to consider postponing the 2022 elections citing murmurs from his constituencies on fears of voting in the middle of a pandemic.

Comelec chairman Sheriff Abas, in response to Arroyo during the budget hearing of the poll body, said that the balls is with the Congress and President Rodrigo Duterte should they decide to push for postponement.

But Roque said that if and when the next elections is moved, this will present constitutional challenges, as he noted that the Constitution states that the fixed date for national elections is on the second Monday of May.

“The National Election is still two years away and we still have sufficient time to prepare,” the presidential spokesman said.

RELATED: Lawyers thumb down proposal to postpone 2022 elections over COVID-19 fears | Postponing 2022 elections a violation of the Constitution — senators, lawyer

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said Friday morning that they are preparing for a scenario that the elections in 2022 will be held in a time of pandemic. He explained that they are studying alternative voting methods, which include holding voting for two to three days, and are proposing the purchase of more voting machines for the next elections.

Roque also said the Philippines can look into examples of other countries that had polls during pandemic, such as the United States that is due to elections in a few months.

He stressed: “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.” — Kristine Joy Patag

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