Comelec: 'No need' to defer 2022 elections despite coronavirus fears

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 25 2020 07:34 AM | Updated as of Sep 25 2020 07:53 AM

Comelec: 'No need' to defer 2022 elections despite coronavirus fears 1
Manila residents visit the Commission on Election (COMELEC) office in Arroceros, Manila on Sept. 1, 2020 to register for the 2022 elections. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA -- The Commission on Elections said Friday it saw no need to postpone the 2022 elections, as suggested by a lawmaker who claimed that voters were afraid to elect their next leaders due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The body is asking for P30 billion to prepare for the presidential elections and mulling measures to protect voters from the respiratory disease, including staggering the polls over 2 to 3 days, said Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez.

"Hindi natin nakikita ang need para magma-postpone ng elections," he told TeleRadyo.

(We don't see any need to postpone the elections.)

Pampanga Rep. Mikey Arroyo on Thursday floated the idea of deferring the polls, noting that a vaccine against the novel coronavirus will not be available until late next year.

The presidential elections is a "constitutional mandate" that cannot be reset as easily as the barangay or youth council polls, said Jimenez.

"Hindi namin gagawin iyan. Malinaw na malinaw ang mandato ng Comelec at iyan ay magpa-conduct ng election. At medyo ironic naman kung Comelec pa mismo ang magsabing huwag nating ituloy ang halalan," he said.

(We will not do that. The mandate of the Comelec is very clear and that is to conduct the election. And it will be a bit ironic if Comelec itself will push for the postponement of the election.)

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Comelec Chairman Sheriff Abas earlier said the poll body was looking at best practices in South Korea and the US to keep the elections safe.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., meanwhile, lambasted Arroyo's proposal and said, "You don't cancel elections for any reason. That's treason."

"We are a democracy or a s*** slave colony. Hold elections period. Those brave to stand in line & vote—even if only 12—decide the next President. Elections=democracy or F*** U. You fucking s***," he said in an expletive-laden tweet.

Former Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal, meantime, said there was "no reason to postpone the elections," pointing out that in order to extend the term of elected officials set to step down on June 30, 2022 is to have a constitutional amendment and ratify it through a plebiscite.

"So you’re going to have an electoral exercise, to postpone an electoral exercise? There is no reason to postpone the elections. Other countries have had elections already," he said.