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Only a law can defer polls – Comelec

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is not looking at postponing the 2022 national elections, but does not rule out the possibility of rescheduling the polls should lawmakers pass a law allowing it.

“That was asked to me by Rep. (Mikee) Arroyo during our budget hearing last week in Congress. Right now, it is not in our plans to postpone the 2022 elections,” Comelec Chair Sheriff Abas said in a televised press briefing on Monday.

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Arroyo, House deputy majority leader and Pampanga representative, floated the idea of postponing the 2022 elections due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Abas explained that the proposal to postpone the elections will have to come from the House of Representatives and the Senate since it involves amending the Constitution.

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“If you will look at the Constitution, there is a provision there saying that elections [are] on the second Monday of May. So, the date is definite, although a law can be made on the extension. But again that is not the call of the Comelec,” he said.

Asked if the Comelec is ruling out the postponement, Abas replied: “It would be difficult to rule it out because if you look at the Constitution it has a provision of ‘unless otherwise provided for by law.’”

Abas also noted that under the Constitution, the terms of incumbent officials will end on June 30.

Alternative voting method

The Comelec earlier said it was looking at ways to ensure the safe conduct of the polls in 2022 amid the pandemic.

These include the possibility of expanding alternative voting method and requiring voters to wear face shields and masks, among others.

Only around 250,000 people have so far applied to become voters for the May 2022 elections nearly a month since the voter registration resumed.

“The number is quite low and that’s expected because of the pandemic,” said Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez.

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The registration runs until Sept. 30, 2021.

Meanwhile, Malacañang said President Duterte was not interested in extending his term amid a proposal to postpone the elections.

“The President is not interested in extending his term. He leaves it to the Filipino people, the sovereign people, to decide if they want to amend the Constitution to postpone the elections,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque Edgardo Tallardo.

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TAGS: 2020 elections, Comelec, coronavirus pandemic, coronavirus Philippines, COVID-19
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