One News : Comelec Approves Longer Voting Hours, Rejects Multi-Day Polls In 2022

17 September 2021

By Robertzon Ramirez | One News

The poll body set aside proposals for multi-day election for being unconstitutional. Instead, it approved longer voting hours – from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. – in next year’s elections.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has rejected a proposal for multi-day voting in May 2022, and instead approved longer voting hours to ensure safety protocols in every polling precinct.

Comelec Chairman Sheriff Abas said the poll body set aside the multi-day election proposals for being unconstitutional and decided to start the casting of votes at 6 a.m. lasting until 6 p.m. on election day.

The 1987 Constitution states that the national and local elections should be held on the second Monday of May.

Abas added that they could also extend the voting hours by one to three hours, depending on the number of people who have yet to cast their votes due to health restrictions brought by the COVID pandemic.

“So we’re on default, we removed those kinds of preparations. So we see to it that it will be constitutional because under the Constitution, one day lang ang ating election and that will be on the second Monday of May of the election year,” Abas said.

“We’ll see the flow of voters on that day because the en banc can decide immediately, if many are still unable to vote because of the pandemic we may extend by one, two or three hours,” he added.

He said a multi-day election would mean more expenses for the Comelec since they will have to pay for the services of the teachers and other personnel who would be serving the entire duration of voting hours.

Abas said extending voting hours is ideal if the Comelec cannot secure the much-needed additional vote counting machines (VCMs) that will be used for the 2022 polls if their budget is insufficient.

“Right now, 97,000 (VCMs) are good for 1,000 (voters) per machine. If that will be the case there is really a need to change the voting hours. So we’ll adjust voting hours for the schools not to be crowded,” he said.

The Comelec is now looking at reducing the capacity to 800 voters per VCM to ensure compliance to social distancing and other health protocols, prompting the poll body to open a bid for the lease of 10,000 additional VCMs.

But the Comelec declared a failure of bidding for the 10,000 VCMs after its lone bidder, Smartmatic Total Information Management Inc., withdrew its bid due to insufficient budget for the contract.

In another development, Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon said there are already around 61 million registered voters for the 2022 polls and about 6.5 million deactivated voters who have yet to reactivate their registration.

Guanzon said that deactivated voters, or those who failed to vote in two consecutive elections, can now apply for reactivation of their records without going to Comelec offices physically as they are now allowed to apply through email.

She appealed to senior citizens, persons with disability and pregnant women to inform their election officers before going to Comelec offices so that they would be prioritized when applying for voters’ registration.

There are only 13 days left before the Sept. 30 voters’ registration deadline.

Northern alliance for Isko

Meanwhile, a political alliance in Northern Luzon is urging Manila Mayor Isko Moreno to run for president next year and assured him of a “solid north” vote.

The “Isko Northern Alliance” called on Moreno to seek the highest position of the land during a virtual launch on Wednesday, Sept. 15.

Cicero Lumauig, the group’s lead convenor, said the northern alliance is composed of 15 provinces and 13 cities that could deliver six million votes for Moreno next year.

Lumauig said the “solid north” vote for the family of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos is a “ myth” that could be diverted into a vote for Moreno.

Ricky Fariñas, convenor and nephew of Ilocos Norte Rep. Rudy Fariñas, said the Marcoses continue to take up all elective positions in the province.

Sandro Marcos, son of former senator Bongbong Marcos, has announced his congressional bid next year against Ria Fariñas.

“Enough of this kind of politics. That is why we are convincing Mayor Isko to run for President,” Ricky Fariñas said during the launch.

The “Ikaw Muna (IM) Pilipinas” movement was launched in June to convince Moreno to run, according to national convenor Tim Orbos, former general manager of the Metropolitan Ma-nila Development Authority.

While Moreno would have served a single term as Manila mayor should he run for president, he has made changes in Manila “in just so short a time,” IM Pilipinas secretary-general Emer Argaño added.

“Manila is a microcosm of the country with many problems for a long time,” Argaño told The STAR yesterday.

The IM Pilipinas alliance has chapters in at least 50 provinces and 20 cities and has a mass base of 20,000 people, Argaño said.

Join Leni’s call for unity

Meanwhile, a group urging Vice President Leni Robredo to run for president has urged other politicians to join her call for unity in the upcoming elections.

Sharmila Parmanand, a convenor of volunteer group Dapat Si Leni, said a united opposition is the only way to prevent President Duterte from hanging on to power after his term.

She also noted the reported plan of former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to run for president.

“Unity is the only way to derail the evil plan of these two people and we must do it for the sake of the Filipino people,” said Parmanand.

“Vice President Robredo is also aware of it so she was the first one to initiate unity talks between other political figures who have major roles to play in the upcoming elections,” she added.

Aside from Robredo and Moreno, the group also urged Batangas Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto and Senators Manny Pacquiao, Grace Poe, Ralph Recto and Nancy Binay to continue working for a unified opposition in 2022. – With Marc Jayson Cayabyab, Janvic Mateo