By Currie Cator | The Manila Times
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) plans to implement a "hybrid" political campaign rules in the 2022 elections as the nation continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic.
At the hearing of the House of Representatives' Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms, Comelec Commissioner Marlon Casquejo said the poll body will include limited face-to-face campaigns and rallies where the public can participate online.
"We are preparing for [all] possible options in the event that we still don't have herd immunity," Casquejo said.
The campaign period for presidential and senatorial candidates will be from February 8 to May 7, 2022.
As for the filing of certificates of candidacy (COCs), Casquejo said as much as the commission wants to conduct it online, it is constrained by "legal hindrances."
"According to the law, filing must be done personally or through a representative," he said.
"Maybe what we can do is limit the number of candidates inside [each] office," Casquejo added.
The Comelec has yet to identify which positions will be scheduled on certain dates of the filing, according to its commissioner.
"We are still drafting the final resolution on what position will go first," he said.
The filing of COCs for next year's polls is scheduled from October 1 to 8.
Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez, however, said the Comelec should be more "proactive" and consider allowing virtual filing, noting that there may be exceptions to the law, especially during a public health emergency.
"'Yung mga batas na ganyan, outdated na in terms of the pandemic (Laws like that are already outdated in terms of the pandemic)," he said.
Casquejo gave assurances he would raise the issue with the other Comelec commissioners, saying he believes there is a need to update the existing laws. He said he has also proposed that the reactivation of voters be conducted online.
"As [for] the filing [of] new registrants, we really have to discuss more on that because we are preparing for our cluster precincts," Casquejo said.
The poll officials said it can postpone the elections should there be a surge in infections.
"[We can also] fortify the polling places by disinfecting them prior to elections [and] providing Covid-19 supplies to our [poll]," Comelec Executive Director Bart Sinocruz Jr. said, adding the commission has required all its staff to get vaccinated.
He added the agency may consider extending voting hours to prevent overcrowding and designate personnel to manage the respective election centers.
The Comelec is set to release its final plans for the May 9, 2022 elections in July, said Sinocruz.