2022 Philippine Elections

Comelec rejects poll postponement scenario as fresh COVID-19 fears emerge

Dwight de Leon
Comelec rejects poll postponement scenario as fresh COVID-19 fears emerge

MASKED REGISTRATION. A throng of people line up to register for the 2022 elections at the Comelec satellite office in Arroceros, Manila on September 15, 2021.

Rappler

'Whatever happens, we will have an election. Laban kung laban,' says Comelec Commissioner Aimee Ferolino

MANILA, Philippines – The possibility of postponing the 2022 polls is not on the table, multiple poll officials guaranteed, as the detection of a new Omicron sub-variant in the Philippines puts forward fresh worries over the conduct of the May 9 vote.

“We are sure that suspension is not an option. We will do the elections as mandated by the Constitution,” Comelec Commissioner and steering committee head Marlon Casquejo said in a press briefing on Thursday, April 28.

“We have already prepared for eventualities. We have the supplies already. We have trained our election workers,” Comelec Commissioner Aimee Ferolino added. “Whatever happens, we will have an election. Laban kung laban (We’ll keep fighting.)”

The assurance came a day after the Department of Health (DOH) logged the country’s first case of Omicron BA.2.12, the sub-variant behind a new surge of COVID-19 cases in the United States. The World Health Organization has not classified it as a variant of interest or concern.

The DOH, in April, warned of a COVID-19 surge by mid-May if Filipinos will not comply with minimum public health standards.

For the May 9 polls, Filipinos will head to polling places where familiar anti-coronavirus measures will be enforced: temperature checks, physical distancing measures, wearing of face masks, and submission of health declaration forms, among others.

Classrooms that will serve as polling centers will have barriers between election workers and voters; medical personnel and anti-COVID-19 marshals will also be nearby.

Voters who will register a temperature of 37.5 degrees Celsius and above will not be turned away but will be redirected to an isolation polling place.

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“The elections will be held on May 9. [The Comelec] is here to make sure that it does. Everything is put in place to answer for all contingencies,” Comelec Commissioner and new normal committee vice chairman Rey Bulay guaranteed.

The 1987 Constitution is clear – “unless otherwise provided by law, the regular election for President and Vice-President shall be held on the second Monday of May.”

The Omnibus Election Code also states that elections can be postponed – but not canceled – only for “any serious cause such as violence, terrorism, loss or destruction of election paraphernalia or records, force majeure, and other analogous causes of such a nature that the holding of a free, orderly, and honest election should become impossible.” – Rappler.com

Dwight de Leon

Dwight de Leon is a multimedia reporter who covers local government units and the Commission on Elections for Rappler.