Manila Standard : Comelec halts 5 plebiscites before polls

19 August 2021

By Vito Barcelo | Manila Standard

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has postponed all plebiscites that were scheduled to be conducted before the 2022 elections so as not to delay the preparations for the May 2022 national elections.

In Resolution No. 10716, the Comelec identified five pending plebiscites to be postponed:

• The plebiscite to ratify the division of Maguindanao into two provinces;

• The plebiscite to ratify the conversion of the municipality of Calaca in the province of Batangas into a component city;

• The plebiscite to ratify the conversion of the City of San Jose Del Monte into a highly urbanized city;

• The plebiscite to ratify the creation of Barangay New Canaan into a regular and distinct barangay in the municipality of Alabel, Sarangani; and

• The plebiscite to ratify the merging of Barangay District 1 to Barangay District 28 and renaming of Barangay 29 in Ormoc City.

“The Commission En Banc…hereby resolves to suspend the conduct of all plebiscites and schedule the holding of said plebiscites within four months from the end of the election period for the May 9, 2022 national and local elections,” the resolution read.

“Considering the timeline laid above for the preparation for the 2022 NLE and the arduous preparations needed for its implementation, in order to concentrate all its resources in the preparation for the May 9, 2022 National and Local Elections, there is a need to set a cut-off date for the conduct of plebiscites,” it read.

The Comelec also cited that their calendar of activities is already filled – from the configuration of vote-counting machines, to the preparation of the final database for all elective positions, to the printing of ballots – for them to work on the conduct of plebiscites in 2021.

The Comelec likewise said there are other functions that require the exercise of both administrative and quasi-judicial powers of the Commission in relation to the conduct of the 2022 NLE.

They include the resolution of petitions for registration as a political party, petitions for registration for purposes of participating in the party-list system and resolutions of petitions for disqualification or petitions to deny or cancel Certificates of Candidacy.

They also said that plebiscites may consume more preparation time due to COVID-19 challenges, as experienced during the Palawan plebiscite in March.