Final list of candidates out December – Comelec

Robertzon Ramirez - The Philippine Star
Final list of candidates out December â Comelec
Individuals Queue for Voter registration outside the COMELEC office in Quezon City. Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez announced that the Commission approved the resumption of voter registration from 8am to 5pm in areas under MECQ (September 6, 2021).
STAR / Boy Santos, file

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) targets to release the final list of candidates for the May 2022 general elections by next month as it prepares to start sifting through the list of aspirants shortly after the Nov. 15 deadline for substitution.

It also opened yesterday its main office at Intramuros in Manila for those intending to do some subs-titutions for next year’s polls, but only two party-list groups appeared to file a withdrawal and a substitution.

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez told reporters in a press conference yesterday that they would start vetting individuals who have filed their certificates of candidacy (COCs) for the 2022 polls to ensure that only the legitimate candidates will appear on the final list.

“After Nov. 15, that is when Comelec really starts cracking down on the list because everyone who is getting out of the list voluntarily has already gotten out. So all that remains are those who really want to run for office. Now, we will find out at that point (who among them are) nuisance,” Jimenez said.

He also said that the poll body has “already pre-screened the aspirants” and that it has, so far, filed 70 motu proprio cases for declaration of nuisance candidates. The charges, he clarified, do not correspond to a penalty as they were “only charged for being nuisance candidates.”

Aside from this, the Comelec might call for a hearing to clarify issues before finally declaring an aspirant as a nuisance candidate.

“So, we are expecting the final list of candidates sometime in December, the earliest will come in the middle of December,” he added.

The Comelec also vowed, during the briefing of the House committee on suffrage and electoral reforms on preparations for the 2022 polls, for a safe and efficient conduct of elections amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Comelec director Teopisto Elnas Jr. assured congressmen that the health and safety of at least 63 million voters will be protected as they exercise their fundamental right to suffrage next year.

Among these are the frequent disinfections throughout the election period and the extension of voting time from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“But we do not expect that (voting) will end at 7 o’clock, it will continue until such time that all those inside or within 30 meters will be catered. We have procedures on that,” Elnas said.

In 2016, voting ran only from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. This was extended until 6 p.m.?during the 2019 midterm elections.

Hybrid debates

The Comelec is also planning to organize at least seven “hybrid debates” among presidential and vice presidential candidates starting January next year.

Jimenez told reporters that the debates would be held in different batches – one in January for presidential candidates and which will serve as a teaser of the whole debate. Three other debates will be held each for presidential and vice presidential candidates from February to March 2022.

He explained that the debate will be hybrid since only presidential and vice presidential candidates will be allowed inside de-signated venues. Audiences, unlike in the 2016 debates, will not be allowed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Apart from that, Jimenez said the Comelec itself would organize the debates, unlike in the 2016 presidential elections when various media entities were assigned by the poll body to organize it.

“It’s been discussed and probably it’s not going to be, well at least the proposal on the table that we’re discussing now is sort of different from how we used to do it before. In the last presidential debates, basically the debates were given to several groups of media entities,” Jimenez said.

“We are looking at a different implementation model with one organizer of the debate and everyone gets to cover it. It’s pooled. Comelec is the organizer. We are looking at one primary debate, three presidential debates and three vice presidential debates,” he added.

Asked if they could organize debates for senatorial candidates, Jimenez said that they could not organize for them, but said that they welcome and support efforts by some private individuals who will organize the senatorial debates and fora. – Edu Punay


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