Senator Imee Marcos on Thursday, February 11, called on President Duterte to certify as urgent the bill that would authorize the early voting for the 2022 elections to complement the government’s upcoming vaccination program against the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Marcos, chairperson of the Senate Electoral Reforms and People’s Participation, issued the appeal as she said the rollout of vaccines is “no guarantee that the 2022 elections would not become a multiple, super-spreader event.”
“Planning for elections has become more complicated due to the pandemic…The delay in passing such a law denies the Commission on Elections (Comelec) ample time to plan pandemic-related measures and fix a proper budget to put them in place,” she said in a statement.
“Run-throughs may be needed. Haphazard preparations and resulting voter confusion will undermine the legitimacy of the elections,” she pointed out.
Allowing early voting, Marcos said, will ensure the smooth and safe conduct of the local and national elections next year.
She said the Senate committee is already completing its report on her Senate Bill No. 1104, which seeks to allow early voting for senior citizens and persons with disabilities (PWDs).
Marcos said she intends to include health workers, military and police personnel, poll watchers, and the media when the bill is taken up in the Senate plenary.
“Expanding the list of groups eligible for early voting will reduce crowding on election day and further mitigate the health risks in next year’s polls,” she said.
“Moreover, new voting precincts that will accommodate fewer people will need to be created and new voting venues identified, to comply with social distancing and other safety protocols.” “May I urge President Duterte to certify the urgency of passing an early voting law and make a smooth and safe transition of leadership part of his legacy,” she appealed.