MANILA — A group calling itself Coalition for Life and Democracy (NCLD) on Friday filed a petition at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) seeking to postpone the May 9, 2022 national and local elections, citing the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Based on the prevailing circumstances, there subsists [a] compelling necessity for the state to postpone the elections,” the petition asserted.
“Experience in recent months and the present situation demands continuing observance of health protocols particularly prohibition on social gatherings and overcrowding,” it added.
The group further pointed out so-called “meet and greet” engagements of “presidential, gubernatorial and mayoral candidates” have led to “open vote-buying, and in the process, placing the life, health and safety of the poor and innocent in grave jeopardy.”
The elections should be postponed, especially amid the “highly transmissible” Omicron variant of COVID-19, the petition said.
While the conduct of elections on the second Monday of May is mandated under Art. VII, Sec. 4 of the 1987 Constitution, the group argued the right to life “takes precedence” and is “the highest and most sacred” in the hierarchy of rights.
NCLD cited the state’s police power and adoption of extraordinary measures “during extraordinary times to promote and protect the health of the citizenry and avert the spectacle of massive deaths.”
The group, however, conceded that the power to reschedule national elections rests with Congress, while it asserted under Sec. 5 of the Omnibus Election Code, the poll body may postpone local elections from the position of governor down to member of the Sangguniang Bayan.
“We can seek the postponement of a scheduled national elections through the filing of a bill in congress, to be decided by both Houses, and to be signed by the President; along this line ang mga local officials naman, the elections for the local officials… the [Comelec], voting on a majority of the members of the en banc, can postpone a local election,” said Francisco Buan, one of the petitioners.
Buan said they wrote Congress, but no bill has been filed as of yet.
Noticeably, the petition cited different years for the resetting of polls: in the body, the plea was for the polls to be held in May 2023, while the prayer states it should be in May 2025.
The petition states the coalition was formed in June 2021 at the St. Clare College in Caloocan City, “anchored on a noble mission to underscore and uphold the importance and primacy of life, its protection and preservation, while adhering to democratic systems, principles and ideology.”
Buan said their group is “apolitical.”