Amidst the disaster of unabated rise of COVID-19 cases (breaching the 5, 000 mark last Saturday, the…
Mikey Arroyo, son of former president Gloria Arroyo, is seldom heard since his mother left Malacañang in 2010. Currently a member of the House of Representatives representing the second district of Pampanga, Mikey Arroyo said something dumb last week, it became news.
At the House deliberations on the proposed 2021 budget of the Commission on Elections Thursday, Arroyo floated the idea of postponing the May 9, 2022 elections if the Covid-19 continues to be a threat to the public by that time.
Arroyo said he has been reading a lot about the Covid-19 pandemic and he asked the Comelec officials: “Assuming for the sake of argument that nothing goes wrong, the earliest that the vaccine will be available in our country for everybody, maybe September or October next year. The thought that we will postpone the elections, has that ever triggered in your mind?”
It was a good thing Comelec Chairman Sheriff Abas immediately shot the idea down: “Hindi po talaga. Because alam naman natin that this is a constitutional mandate at fixed yung nilagay.”He told Arroyo that they are taking steps to make sure that the elections would not endanger the health of everybody involved in the exercise.
Many were appalled by Arroyo’s idea of postponing the elections.
Former Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal underscored the senselessness of the idea by citing other government activities undertaken by the government: “Pwede na hong pumunta ang tao sa Boracay starting Oct. 1 pero hindi sila puwede bumoto on May 9, 2022? Pwuwede silang pumunta sa Roxas Blvd , tingnan yung dolomite, pero indi sila pwede sa presinto para bumuto? Parang mali, di ba?”
Mali talaga. And Foreign Secretary Teddy Locsin, Jr. didn’t mince words in a tweet:” You don’t cancel elections for any reason. That’s treason. We are a democracy or a shet slave colony. Hold elections period. Those brave to stand in line and vote- even if only 12- decide the next president. Elections = democracy or Fuck U. You Fucking shet.”
Senator Panfilo Lacson laid out the adverse effects of postponing the 2022 elections: “Canceling or postponing election to pave the way for the extension of the terms of office of the President, the Vice President, 12 senators, district representatives as well as elected local government officials beyond June 30, 2022 is a clear violation of the Constitution.”
Art 7, section 4 of the Constitution states that “Unless otherwise provided by law, the regular election for President and Vice-President shall be held on the second Monday of May.”
It also says that “The President and the Vice-President shall be elected by direct vote of the people for a term of six years which shall begin at noon on the thirtieth day of June next following the day of the election and shall end at noon of the same date, six years thereafter.”
Election watchdog LENTE opposes the postponement of the 2022 elections: “No. The Commission on Elections has at least 20 full months to prepare and implement measures to comply with the recommended health standards to combat the threats of COVID-19.
“The resumption of the registration has started and is in full swing, with all the required sanitary and social distancing measures in place. South Korea, Sri Lanka and Malaysia have in fact conducted their elections this year, amidst the pandemic. Why should we postpone ours when we have all the time to prepare and ensure Safe. Accountable. Transparent. Inclusive. and National public confidence in the election results.”
Another election watchdog, NAMFREL, also opposed the postponement: “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.””
NAMFREL called on election stakeholders and the public “to uphold our commitment to preserve our democratic institutions and Constitutional rights. Instead of postponing elections, let us all work together to make sure that they happen, even during the pandemic.”
The views in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of VERA Files.