Election watchdogs said there is valid reason to postpone the conduct of the May 2922, in reaction to the questions raised by Pampanga Rep. Mikey Arroyo who cited the low number of voter registrants to justify his point that voters are afraid because of Covid-19 infection.
In a statement, Rona Caritos of the Legal Network for Truthful Elections said they see no reason to postpone the polls, and Covid-19 is not the reason for the low number. Registrants, “Filipinos are simply like that; they wait for the deadline before taking action. That’s why there are many calls to register now,” she added.
Caritos noted that other countries have managed to hold their elections this year despite the pandemic. “They did not postpone their elections. We have ample time to prepare for it even if Covid-19 will still be a problem by then,” she said.
Danilo Arao of Kontradaya also expressed opposition to suggestions that the 2022 polls be postponed. “We signed a unity statement last September 14, which calls for the holding of the 2022 elections. It is mandated by the Constitution and there’s no reason to postpone it,” he said.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) for its part said they would include health and safety protocols in their preparations for the 2022 polls should Covid-19 remains a threat.
“The basis of all Comelec planning for 2022 is that the pandemic will persist until then. We need to implement precautions so the virus will not spread – whether voters or election workers,” Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said in his Twitter, @jabjimenez.
“People are afraid of catching Covid-19, yes. Yet they still come to register – and in 2022, they WILL come out to vote. Comelec will be there to help them do it safely. Maybe we shouldn’t underestimate the courage and democratic spirit of the Filipino. #MagparehistroKa,” Jimenez said.
Critics, meanwhile said politicians floating the no-el (no election) idea simply want to remain in office beyond their term, and perhaps “their constituents will no longer re-elect them.”