Comelec pressed: Allow online filing of candidacy for 2022 polls

Published June 17, 2021, 3:40 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

House Deputy Speaker and Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez on Thursday, June 17, prodded the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to finally allow the online filing of certificates of candidacy (COCs) for next year’s elections.

Commission on Elections

During an inquiry of the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reform on the plans and preparations of the Comelec for conduct of 2022 polls in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Rodriguez said the Comelec should be proactive in allowing online filing candidacy even as the current election code requires the personal presence of candidates or their representatives.

“Although I believe that in emergency — there are many, you know, even constitutional provisions and the law — that provides [for] this one, but the Comelec has to do it, why? Because of emergency, because of the pandemic, because of what we face. It can be done,” Rodriguez, a lawyer, told Comelec officials.

“Huwag na tayo magpapersonal pa (Let’s not require personal presence),” he appealed. “Kailangang online na (It should now be online),” he pressed.

“Let us see who will question that,” he also said, asking the poll body to come up with a policy that would allow the online filing of COCs.

Rodriguez said the Omnibus Election Code is “outdated”, and did not take into consideration the occurrence of public emergencies, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said he will also file a bill that would authorize the submission of COCs to the Comelec via the internet during emergencies.

“In times of emergency, ‘yong mga batas na mga requirement (those requirements by law) can be waived by the Comelec in the interest of public service and to have more safety measure against the pandemic,” the Cagayan de Oro representative said.

The Comelec set the filing of COCs for national and local candidates from October 1 to October 8, 2021.

Commissioner Marlon Casquejo said he has proposed to the Comelec en banc to allow the online filing of candidacies subject for verification. He committed to lawmakers to raise anew the matter in their future meetings.

In the meantime, Casquejo said the poll body is mulling on limiting the number of people that would accompany potential candidates or their representatives who will file COCs.