Drilon: Senators to ‘vigorously oppose’ postponement of 2022 polls
MANILA, Philippines — Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Friday said the Senate will oppose a proposal to defer the 2022 elections as he sees no justification for it.
“On a theoretical basis, we can pass a law. I cannot see any justification on the postponement of the election,” he said in an interview over CNN Philippines’ The Source.
“We will oppose that vigorously in the Senate. I think the senators will not be swayed by any argument to allow the postponement of a national election,” he added.
Drilon made the remark following Pampanga Rep. Mikey Arroyo’s suggestion to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to postpone the 2022 elections amid the ongoing pandemic.
The veteran senator reminded the Comelec that it has no power to postpone national elections without a law being amended. Only Congress can pass a law on the deferment of elections in the country since it is a constitutionally-mandated exercise.
“The Constitution is clear that the term of office of nationally elected officials that began at noon on June 30 of 2016 cannot go beyond noon of June 30, 2022”, pointed out Drilon, adding that postponements can be done “provided that is within 30 days from the time the cause for the postponement would cease.”
Only the barangay officials, whose term can be fixed by interim legislations, can extend office beyond three years, he also said.
“The national officials and local officials, other than barangay officials, cannot hold office beyond the term set out in the Constitution,” Drilon stressed.
“Given all these legal limitations, it will be absurd to postpone the elections. Comelec should be able to come up with adaptive and mitigating measures. We will provide Comelec with sufficient funds to set up mitigating measures in case the pandemic lasts until that time,” he said.
Senator Francis Pangilinan echoed Drilon, saying a pandemic is not enough justification to defer the national elections in 2022.
He said there are other means to protect the health and safety of voters, such as extending voting days to two days.
Voting precincts can also be moved to basketball courts, plazas, gymnasiums, or other more spacious establishments to allow physical distancing, Pangilinan said.
“Kontra sa Saligang Batas ang pagkansela ng halalan. Hindi dahilan ang pandemya upang kanselahin ang eleksyon. Hindi tayo tulad ng Hong Kong na hawak sa leeg ng China kaya naipagpaliban ang kanilang eleksyon,” Pangilinan said in a statement.
“May mga paraan upang matuloy ang eleksyon at maproteksyunan ang kalusugan ng mga nais bumoto,” he added.
Several countries such as South Korea and Singapore have successfully conducted elections even in the midst of the pandemic, he further noted.
Fellow Southeast Asian nations Myanmar and Indonesia are also scheduled to hold elections in November and December 2020 respectively.
The Senate is set to hear the budget of the Comelec on Monday, September 28.
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