By Eimor Santos | CNN Philippines
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 30)— Those planning to file their certificates of candidacy (COCs) for the 2022 polls will have to do so in person, but minus the fanfare due to COVID-19, according to the Commission on Elections.
The poll body earlier considered allowing the online filing of COCs during the scheduled period from October 1 to 8. But this is apparently not possible, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez told CNN Philippines on Friday.
"Meron nang study 'yung aming (There's already a study conducted by our) law department saying that online filing is legally questionable. We're trying to find a workaround but there's no word on that yet," Jimenez said.
"Again, as a fundamental point, hindi 'yan (that's not) allowed," he reiterated.
Republic Act 7166 states that COCs should be filed by candidates personally or through their duly authorized representatives. "No certificate of candidacy shall be filed or accepted by mail, telegram or facsimile," the law reads.
Jimenez said Comelec is still working on the guidelines for the filing of COCs this year. It will surely limit the number of people in and out of Comelec offices, including supporters who will accompany the candidates, and the media covering the events.
The Comelec is also studying designating separate dates of filing per elective post to avoid crowding.
Where are we in election preps?
The poll body targets to refurbish the vote counting machines (VCMs) in the last week of August or the first week of September.
It wanted to jumpstart the process by conducting a walk-through of the location of the warehouse by the second week of August, but this will likely be affected by the imposition of enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila from August 6 to 20.
"Like everyone else we are scrambling right now to see how that affects our schedule but yes that will affect our schedule," Jimenez said.
Early this week, the Comelec declared the lowest calculated bid for the transport of VCMs and other election equipment and paraphernalia. It was won by F2 Logistics, which said it could transport election materials in several parts of the country at the price of ₱1.61 billion.
Jimenez said nothing's final yet as the Comelec will still look into the company's capacity to deliver before it is awarded any contract.
F2 Logistics' founding chairman, Efren Uy, is known as one of the businessmen who donated in President Rodrigo Duterte's 2016 campaign, but Jimenez said this should not be an issue.
"Of course, it's understandable that some people would be wary about that," Jimenez said. "The thing is there are very strict rules for bidding…These are basically the securities and the guarantees that we have."
Comelec expects high voter turnout
In a June 2021 Pulse Asia survey commissioned by Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, 46% percent of the 2,400 adult respondents said they would not vote in the May 2022 elections if there's a high number of COVID-19 cases in their areas.
Zubiri presented the results during the Senate's plenary session on Wednesday, as he called on relevant government agencies to take action to prevent a low voter turnout.
Jimenez said this is a "very timely warning," but added that the Comelec is doing all it can to secure the voting precincts and assure the safety of voters.
He said voter registration is also doing good, with more than 60 million registrants to date. The target is more than 61 million registered voters before the deadline ends on September 30.