The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is considering conducting the 2022 national and local elections for two to three days to minimize the number of voters flocking voting precincts if the COVID-19 pandemic is still ongoing by that time.
During the House panel deliberations on the proposed 2021 budget of the poll body, Comelec executive director Bartolome Sinocruz Jr. said they are looking into adopting the two-day schedule of the Palawan plebiscite for the 2022 polls.
The said plebiscite is expected to take place this year to decide whether to divide Palawan into three provinces.
"We're looking at that to implement that sa 2022 elections. Yung date ng election is scheduled by the Constitution. So the plan is to hold elections sa May 9 and then perhaps another two days kung kailangan to continue the elections," Sinocruz said.
"Parang in-extend lang natin yung voting hours. But that's still being studied by our law department," he added.
Sinocruz said that although they are optimistic that a vaccine against COVID-19 is already available by 2022, they are still preparing contingency measures to ensure the health and safety of the voters.
These include limiting the number of voters inside polling precincts to a maximum of five.
At the same time, the Comelec is also considering allowing certificates of candidacy be filed online and by position, Sinocruz said.
"A certain number of days will be allotted for municipal or city councilors. A certain number of days will be allotted for mayor and vice mayors. Same thing will happen in the provincial election supervisor level. Per type of candidate, there will be allotted days," he said.
"We will do away in part the personal filing of certificates of candidacy. There is no prohibition in the law for online filing," he added.
In addition, they would also put up voter's assistance desks outside polling precincts to regulate and assist voters, Sinocruz said.
"Maglalagay tayo ng parang voter's assistance desk sa harapan ng voting center para bigyan na ang tao ng kanilang precinct assignment as well as yung sequence number and may display ng mark kung saan ang kanyang polling center," he said.
Restore budget cut
Earlier in the briefing, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez urged Congress to restore the budget that has been slashed from their proposed appropriations for next year in order for them to procure more vote counting machines and limit the number of people inside voting precincts.
"Ine-expect natin na dadami ang ating mga botante dahil year on year talaga namang tumataas yung ating list of voters. At kapag marami ang botante at nagsisiksikan sila sa isang makina, medyo unsafe yan pagdating sa sitwasyon nating pandemya ngayon," he said.
"Kaya tayo nananawagan ngayon sa Kongreso na sana ma-restore ang ating budget at makuha natin ang buong pangangailangan natin para makapagdagdag tayo ng makina," he added. — RSJ, GMA News