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Congressman seeks to postpone 2022 elections

PHILSTAR

A CONGRESSMAN on Thursday asked election officials to consider deferring the national elections less than two years from now, which effectively extends President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s six-year term, if the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic drags on.

Pampanga Rep. Mikey Arroyo, son of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo who is an ally of Mr. Duterte, told a House of Representatives budget hearing that coronavirus fears might affect voter turnout.

Commission on Elections Chairman Sheriff M. Abas said the President and Congress should decide on the matter. He added that the election body had created a committee that will prepare for 2022 elections in case the pandemic continues.

The six-year term of Mr. Duterte, who is barred by law from seeking reelection, will end in 2022.

Party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas said she and other minority lawmakers would oppose any moves to postpone the elections.

The 1987 Constitution, the fruit of an uprising that ended the dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos’s two-decade rule, bars term extensions, she said by telephone.

Also during the hearing, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez urged congressmen to restore their original budget so they can buy more voting machines. The Budget department more than halved the agency’s budget for next year to 14.565 billion.

The poll body might allow the online filing of certificates of candidacies of politicians, Comelec Deputy Executive Director Bartolome J. Sinocruz, Jr. told the hearing. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza