Philippines may have to spend P2B for additional election day: Recto

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 23 2020 04:29 PM

Manila residents visit the Commission on Election (COMELEC) office in Arroceros, Manila on September 1, 2020 to register for the 2022 elections. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto on Friday said the government may have to spend an additional P2 billion should it proceed with suggestions to extend the May 2022 national elections by another day to decongest polling precincts.

If the Commission on Elections (Comelec) put up 110,000 polling precincts for the 2022 presidential polls, it needs to shell out P2.1 billion for the honorarium of teachers who will serve as election inspectors, Recto said in a statement.

"If we simply double the 2019 honorarium rates of the three members of the Board of Election Inspectors or BEI then that would be the cost," he said.

"Hindi pa kasama ang mga pulis dito. If you deploy an average of one per clustered precinct, then you will be mobilizing half of the country’s police force, which on paper is 194,988," he said.

Recto said the country should prepare for other "contingencies" should a COVID-19 vaccine still be unavailable in 2022.

The Comelec has been asking the Senate to pass a law that would allow a hybrid election system, where votes are manually counted at the precinct level, but electronically-transmitted to the main server.

The passage of the measure was delayed due to COVID-19, Senate Committee on Electoral Reforms chair Imee Marcos said.

Comelec's "live run-thru" of a hybrid election in May was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she added.

The Senate panel is also considering a law that will allow persons with disabilities, pregnant women, and the elderly to cast their votes by mail to decongest polling precincts and minimize the possible spread of the virus.

Under the law, elections for national posts must be held on the second Monday of May every three years for Congress, and every six years for the President and the Vice President.

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