May 2022 polls to turn into a ‘popularity contest’ if Comelec bars face-to-face campaigns -priest

Published February 7, 2021, 1:20 PM

by Leslie Ann Aquino

A Catholic priest believes the May 2022 national and local polls will become a “popularity contest” if all face-to-face campaigning will be prohibited.

(Jansen Romero / MANILA BULLETIN)

“The 2022 elections will have the prospects of being once again a popularity contest,” Father Jerome Secillano of the Nuestra Senora del Perpetuo Socorro Parish in Manila.

“If that indeed happens, famous candidates who have name-recall will have an advantage over the others,” added the priest who is also the executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines Public Affairs Committee.

The Legal Network for Truthful Elections (Lente) on Thursday, Feb. 4 said that such move will be disadvantageous to both voters and candidates. 

The poll watchdog group said a significant number of voters have no access to the internet and hardware necessary to access online information.

Lente said the Commission on Elections (Comelec’s) plan will also “limit and pose undue disadvantage to candidates and political parties that have few resources and limited capability to run online campaigns.”

Instead of prohibiting face-to-face campaigns altogether, the group said it would be better if it will be allowed with the observance of minimum health standards in a bid to mitigate the risk of virus transmission.

The Comelec said it is not ruling out the possibility of continuing to allow face-to-face campaigning as they will still coordinate with the Inter Agency Task Force (IATF) in formulating the guidelines in view of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.