MANILA (UPDATED) - The National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 is looking into the possibility for the country to hold the May 2022 elections on multiple days to prevent crowding and COVID-19 transmissions.
According to NTF chief implementer and vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez, Jr., national elections may negatively impact the country's COVID-19 situation.
The national elections, traditionally done in only a day, will be held on May 9 next year.
“We have seen that in the US and India, it further aggravates ‘yung situation,” Galvez said.
“So we are looking at the possibility that the election will be a multi-day election, not a single-day election, so that we can prevent the possible conglomerations of thousands of people in the precincts,” he added.
The country is battling a new surge in virus infections, which experts blamed on the more contagious Delta variant that first emerged in India.
The capital region and other areas in the country are under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) - the second strictest lockdown level - until September 7 to halt the growth of fresh cases.
Galvez suggested that the elections be done in “phases."
“Maybe geographic ang gagawin natin. For Luzon, for Visayas, for Mindanao,” he explained.
But he admitted that Congress would have to pass a law to be able to implement this.
“I think we have plenty of time (to pass the law). We will collectively plan this with the Comelec and also maybe with the Senate and [House of Representatives]” he said.
HONTIVEROS SAYS PROPOSAL 'NOT PRACTICAL'
Senator Risa Hontiveros questioned Galvez's proposal, and said the proposed "multi-day" voting might be impractical.
She said that instead of holding several election days, the country should instead ramp up its vaccination drive against COVID-19.
"Having multiple voting days may not be practical and it will need an amendment of our election laws," Hontiveros noted.
"We can consider having more clustered precincts to lessen the number of people queuing in a particular voting place, extend or implement longer voting hours to accommodate more people by schedule or expanding the absentee voting law," she added.
The lawmaker pointed out that other options should be explored to "prevent voter disenfranchisement" and protect the 2022 elections' integrity.
Comelec has said it has reached its target of 60 million registered voters.
On Monday, the Philippines confirmed 22,366 new COVID-19 cases, the highest ever.
- With a report from Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News
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