Ex-Comelec official: 'If Filipinos can flock to fake white sand, why can't they vote?'

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 25 2020 09:41 AM | Updated as of Sep 25 2020 10:13 AM

MANILA (UPDATE) -- A former poll commissioner rejected Friday a lawmaker's claim that voters might be too afraid of the pandemic to elect leaders in 2022, citing as an example the recent throngs at the dolomite beach in Manila Bay.

"If we can invite people to go to Roxas Boulevard to look at the dolomite and by Oct. 1, we’re already encouraging people to go to Boracay to take a vacation… why can’t we go to the voting center to vote on election day," former Comelec commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal said.

"Priorities. We need to focus on what we need to do. If people can go to the banks and make a deposit, if they can go the malls, why can’t they go out and vote?" he told ANC.

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.

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Authorities should "talk about what are the steps that are necessary to ensure that we have a healthy and safe elections" instead of discussing the postponement of the democratic exercise that is still over a year away, said Larrazabal.

Around 40 countries have so far held their own elections in the middle of the pandemic, including Russia, Singapore, Iceland and South Korea, he said.

"If they can do it, why can’t we?" said the former official.

Larrazabal said no government office can cancel the elections, adding it can only be done through a constitutional amendment that has to be ratified by a plebiscite.

"So you have to have an electoral exercise to cancel elections. You have to have an election to cancel an election. It does not make sense," he said.

"Postponement of elections in 2022 is impossible. Let’s just throw that out the window. Forget about postponing elections, canceling elections. That’s not gonna happen… Unless the world ends tomorrow, we are going to have elections in 2022," he added.

-- With a report from Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News