Physical campaign ban in 2022 polls only for rich candidates — Bayan Muna
MANILA, Philippines — Plans to do away with face-to-face campaigning for the 2022 Presidential elections may only serve the interests of rich candidates and eventually disenfranchise poor contenders, party-list group Bayan Muna said on Wednesday.
According to Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, proposals to suspend face-to-face campaigning — to prevent the spread of Covid-19 — should be studied thoroughly by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
The idea of banning face-to-face campaigning surfaced after an ABS-CBN News Channel interview with Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez, who said that the pandemic will change several aspects of the election campaign.
Zarate said that physical campaigning, or candidates and their staffers doing door-to-door visits in communities can still be made provided that the communities and the candidates observe health protocols.
“We strongly urge the Comelec to seriously reconsider this prohibition plan and still allow face-to-face campaigning, with the proper health protocols since we are still under a pandemic,” Zarate said in a statement.
“Also as the election period draws closer with the October filing of candidacies and with the Covid vaccines roll out supposedly to start yet this month, we expect that these campaign restrictions and guidelines will also be disseminated soon,” he added.
Only for the rich
Should the Comelec pushes through with its ban on face-to-face campaigning, Zarate said the next elections may rely solely on campaigning by way of social media and television advertisements — more expensive forms of election campaigning.
This would give rich and capable candidates the advantage, he claimed.
“Again, if face to face campaigning would be prohibited, candidates would have to rely on online and media ads campaigning which is very expensive and only the rich candidates can afford that,” Zarate noted.
“If this happens then the next elections will just become a contest for the rich and famous while more Filipinos are disenfranchised,” he added.
Physical campaigning can still happen
Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon clarified on Wednesday that there is a possibility that face-to-face campaigning would be allowed, but only if people strictly follow health restrictions.
She also noted that rules on election campaigning would depend on the decision of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).
Elections in the Philippines are held every second Monday of May, which for 2022 falls on May 9. But election season starts months before, usually in the third quarter of the preceding year, as candidates are set to file their certificate of candidacies by October.
The start of campaigning for the 2022 polls will be on January 9, 2022.
Currently, the national government is preparing to administer vaccines by February or March, in an effort to immunize at least 70 million Filipinos to achieve herd immunity. But economic outlooks have warned that the Philippines may only get wide access to vaccines by 2023.
As of now, the country has over 530,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases, of which 31,455 are active cases. At least 487,721 have recovered, while 10,942 have died.
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