Comelec bats for more budget for 2022 polls
Le Phyllis F. Antojado (The Freeman) - September 26, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — The Commission on Elections in Cebu is lobbying for an additional budget instead of postponing the 2022 polls due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Provincial Election Supervisor Lionel Marco Castillano said the commission needs a bigger allocation for the purchase of additional voting machines and other equipment in compliance with the social distancing protocol.

He said more machines are needed in order to lessen the number of voters per precinct.

“Mao bitaw ang Comelec mangayo og dako-dako nga budget kay pananglitan pag-abot sa 2022 simbako og naa gihapon ang pandemic, naa gyud budget pamalit og mga additonal machines para ma- prevent ang crowding sa matag presinto,” he said.

Also, he said an additional budget is needed for the salaries and allowances of teachers who will serve as the Board of Election Inspectors.

His statement came on the heels of House Deputy Majority Leader and Pampanga 2nd Dist. Rep. Mikey Arroyo’s idea of postponing the 2022 national elections.

Arroryo floated the idea during House deliberations on the proposed 2021 budget of the Comelec on Thursday.

He said the earliest time a vaccine for COVID-19 may become available to the public might be September or October 2021, which is already the period for the filing for candidacy.

But Castillano said the 2022 polls can only be postponed upon the amendment of the Constitution.

“We must remember that constitutional provision na sya nag set sa election. Og imong i-postpone,  not even by mere law imong ma postpone kay dili na parehas sa barangay (election) nga ang ga set is balaod ra, so kana kay constitutional provision man na kinahanglan i-amendar nimo ang Constitution,” Castillano said.

He added that Comelec can only postpone the national elections if there is a “force majeure, terrorism, violence or analogus circumstances" that can force the commission to move the polls, which must be conducted within 30 days from the occurence of the violence or incident.

The COVID-19 pandemic cannot be used as a reason for the postponement as it occurs roughly two year before the elections, he said.

Longer voting period?

Moreover, Castillano said the national elections could be conducted for two or three days.

He said longer poll is feasible but the legalities of it should be looked into.

In a separate interview, Cebu Sixth District Congresswoman Lolypop Ouano Dizon is asking the Comelec about its contingency plans and strategies “to ensure the safety and health of the voters.”

"Perhaps we can ask the Comelec unsa ila contigency plans and strategies ana so people can still express their mandate thru the ballots without endangering their safety and the health of the public in general,” she said.

If the Comelec’s measures need a legislation and budget, she said, the Congress can act on them. — KQD (FREEMAN)

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