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Comelec mulls virtual filing of COC in October

Robertzon Ramirez (The Philippine Star) - June 26, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is studying the possibility of allowing the online filing of certificates of candidacy (COCs) in October this year in a bid to avoid overcrowding amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said that their legal department has conducted a study on online COC filing, that turned out to be prohibited under existing election laws, which require the personal filing of candidacy.

But he said they are looking into the existing practices of the Supreme Court (SC), which allowed videoconferencing hearings and the virtual filing of pleadings in a bid to avoid delays in trial proceedings amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re looking at how these other methods might find applications in the Comelec,” Jimenez said.

He also emphasized that some legislators have disclosed during recent Senate hearings their intention to push for online filing, which would require amending existing election laws.

“But the bottomline, according to the existing law, it doesn’t allow it. That is really the problem. When we talk about existing laws not being allowed because of the pandemic, we’re talking about all laws because none of these laws were issued during the pandemic,” Jimenez said.

He said the Comelec will come up with guidelines to ensure that the filing of the COC will strictly follow the health protocols of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

In another development, the Comelec urged the public to avoid the rush and go to the nearest Comelec office to register for the 2022 general elections as there are only 96 days left before the last day of voter registration.

The deadline for the voters’ registration is on Sept. 30.

COMELEC
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