MANILA — Malacañang said on Thursday it was "too early" to start discussions on whether or not to ban face-to-face campaigning for the 2022 elections as a safeguard against COVID-19 transmission.
The Commission on Elections earlier said it was mulling banning in-person election campaigns, which COVID-19 vaccine czar said might pose a "big challenge and risk" to the country's pandemic response.
"I think it's too early because we are about to start our inoculation campaign," said Palace spokesman Harry Roque.
""I'm sure the issue will be discussed beyond Comelec and will include also the IATF (inter-agency task force against COVID-19)," he told reporters in an online briefing.
The Philippines aims to vaccinate 70 million or two-thirds of its population against COVID-19 this year, starting in February.
"Siyempre, hindi mo naman mababalewala na kung tayo ay makakamit natin iyong target na iyon, baka maibsan ang mga alinlangan sa face-to-face campaigning," said Roque.
"Hindi ko po sinasabi na it will actually happen. But all I'm saying is let's wait [for] what will happen to our vaccination campaign dahil meron pa naman tayong panahon," he added.
(Of course, you cannot dismiss that if we reach that target, our worries on face-to-face campaigning might be eased. I am not saying that it will actually happen, but all I'm saying is let's wait for what will happen to our vaccination campaign because there is still time.)
The Philippines has logged 530,118 confirmed COVID-19 cases, as of Wednesday, including 31,455 active infections, 10,942 fatalities and 487,721 recoveries.