By Robertzon Ramirez, Neil Jayson Servallos | The Philippine Star
MANILA, Philippines — Even on the premise that all voters would have been vaccinated by the time election day comes, the government is considering holding next year’s polls for more than one day to prevent it from becoming a superspreader event, the National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19 said yesterday.
NTF chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. said holding next year’s polls for just one day was not feasible due to the threat of COVID-19, as millions of voters would need to go to cramped polling precincts.
“We are looking at the possibility that the election will be a multi-day election, not a single-day election, so we can prevent the possible conglomeration of thousands of people in precincts,” Galvez said during the Kapihan sa Manila Bay news forum.
The Constitution dictates that elections must be held on the second Monday of May every three or six years. Galvez said the government was working on legislation to allow spreading out the elections to more than a day, including a voting-in-phases scheme by region or island group.
“I think we have plenty of time (to make this possible),” he said, adding that they would be planning the measure with Congress and the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
The NTF, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) and the Comelec were also in talks about how to minimize polling precinct transmissions, the vaccine czar added.
IATF co-chair and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles earlier said all voters would have been fully vaccinated by election day in 2022 but noted that the Comelec might need to adjust its policies on the admission of voters per precinct or to identify additional polling precincts to adhere to social distancing mandates.
Meanwhile, former Comelec commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal posted on Twitter that multi-day elections are “not only illegal but a nightmare scenario which would bring nothing but chaos.”
Larrazabal is reportedly one of the senatorial candidates of the Nationalist People’s Coalition, which is fielding the tandem of Senators Vicente Sotto III and Panfilo Lacson to lead the NPC ticket. He is currently the party’s legal counsel.