SunStar - Namfrel rejects 'no-el' calls

26 September 2020

By SunStar

THE National Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) added Saturday, September 26, its voice to those opposing the proposal of Pampanga Representative Mikey Arroyo for the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to postpone the May 2022 national and local polls due to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) threat.

In a statement, Namfrel said it is also against postponing the next elections, as it goes against the principles of democracy.

"Postponing the elections violates the Constitution, contravenes the principle of regularity in the conduct of an election, extends the terms of elected officials without being elected anew, and deprives the electorate of seeking accountability from elected officials through the ballot," said Namfrel.

"This is an expression of the people's collective will through the ballot," it added.

Last Thursday, Arroyo floated the idea of postponing the 2022 national and local elections because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Arroyo said the poll body must have a “Plan B” in the event that the health crisis lingers up to 2022.

Instead of zeroing in on polls postponement, the election watchdog said all stakeholders should make sure that necessary preparations are being done.

Namfrel noted how the Comelec has already taken the first step by putting in place some guidelines to make election processes, such as voters' registration, more efficient and safe.

It also pointed at how the poll body is already trying to explore other ways to make sure that other processes in the election cycle would have the safety of stakeholders in mind.

"The onus is now on the Comelec to prove that it can be done, and to invite confidence from the public and from polling staff that they would not be exposed to infection if they go out to vote or do their poll duties in 2022," said Namfrel.

The group also said the country should look at how South Korea, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and Taiwan, among others, were able to hold their elections amid the pandemic.

"The Philippines should learn from their experiences, and see what could be applied to our setting," said Namfrel.

Similarly, the group urged the general public to do their part in preserving their democratic institutions and Constitutional rights.

In particular, it said the people should make sure that they are registered to vote and are always informed and educated on current social issues.

"Instead of postponing elections, let us all work together to make sure that they happen, even during a pandemic," said Namfrel. (HDT/SunStar Philippines)