Arroyo son urges poll body to postpone 2022 elections

The son of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo wants the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to consider postponing the 2022 presidential elections because of the raging coronavirus pandemic.

Pampanga 2nd District Representative Mikey Arroyo said during the budget hearing of the Comelec on Thursday, September 24, that his constituents are afraid to vote due to possible exposure to COVID-19. 

"Because I've been hearing in my district, the businessmen, the old people, they're saying maybe they would not just vote because they're scared to vote during that day. That's just food for thought, Mr Chair. The Comelec may choose to answer that or not," Arroyo said. 

"But I hope that thought will linger in their minds. I'm not saying you should do it. Just consider it," added the Pampanga congressman.

The Philippines' next presidential elections are set in May 2022, when Filipinos will choose the successor of Rodrigo Duterte.

By mid-2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) is already expecting widespread COVID-19 immunization, while President Rodrigo Duterte himself claimed Filipinos can be immunized by December this year.

Arroyo's proposal comes after countries such as Sri Lanka, Belarus, Singapore, and South Korea successfully held elections despite the COVID-19 pandemic. The United States is set to hold its own presidential election on November 3.

The Pampanga congressman suggested, however, that the proposal to postpone elections should come from Comelec and not Congress.

"Have you considered that proposal will at least come from you, and not from members of Congress? Because if it comes from us, then people might think we have motives to extend our term," Arroyo said.

Comelec Chairman Sheriff Abas said it is not up to the poll body to decide since no less than the 1987 Constitution mandates presidential elections every 6 years. 

Abas said the Comelec would look into Arroyo's proposal, but this is the call of both chambers of Congress and the President.

COVID-19 cases are steadily rising in the Philippines, with infections now over 294,000. The Philippines is now the country with the highest number of COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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