The Philippine Star

With five months to go before the deadline, the Commission on Elections appears to be on track in achieving its goal of registering approximately four million new voters for the 2022 polls. As of April 20, Comelec records show that 2,770,561 new voters have registered to participate in the May 2022 general elections.

At stake in the polls are positions from the presidency to the legislature and down to the lowest rungs of local government. Preparations for this major electoral exercise are inevitably affected by the difficult battle against the COVID-19 pestilence.

Despite the pandemic, the nation cannot afford to postpone the polls. A no-election scenario or no-el is extremely destabilizing and can only worsen the economic recession that the country is going through due to COVID-19. And with the vote pushing through, the goal of HOPE remains in place: honest, orderly and peaceful elections.

HOPE has always been a challenge even in previous elections. It will be even more so as the nation is preoccupied with balancing lives and livelihoods in the battle against COVID. Purging existing voters’ lists is going to be tough amid the pandemic restrictions nationwide. The registration of new voters is just one of the many steps along the way to ensuring the credibility of the 2022 vote.

The Comelec will have to finalize its choice of voting machines, ensure that all are in good running order, and then put them through several test runs to iron out glitches.

Although stymied by Supreme Court decisions, the Comelec must not give up efforts to regulate campaign contributions and spending, and to rationalize the party-list system so that it truly works for marginalized sectors.

The Comelec will have to study rules on campaigning in the time of COVID and using social media. It must draw up parameters on the use of government resources for personal campaigns. Security forces need more effort to prevent candidates from using murder as the ultimate tool for ensuring their victory at the polls.

Election campaigns in this country often turn into shameless, underhanded, violent free-for-alls. The pandemic must not make the 2022 race even more so.

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