Senator Imee Marcos said Friday that it would be difficult for the Senate to pass within a few months the bill allowing a hybrid elections in 2022.
Marcos, chairperson of the Senate Electoral Reforms and Peoples’ Participation, said the proposal had to be placed in the back burner after the COVID-19 pandemic changed the priorities of the government and lawmakers.
She said senators originally agreed to pass the law in time for a run-through by May next year as the Commission on Elections (Comelec) had recommended.
“Na-delay lahat sa COVID, at ngayon nakatutok tayo hanggang Deccember sa budget ng 2021. Gipit ‘yong January. (Everything was delayed due to COVID-19, and now we will be focusing until December on the 2021 national budget. January would be too tight a deadline),” Marcos said in a text message.
Comelec chair Sheriff Abas told senators on Thursday that while the poll body was amenable to the proposed shift to a hybrid system in the 2022 national elections and future polls in the country, the bill authorizing this should be passed as early as January, 2021 to give them enough time to prepare for its conduct.
Abas said the government could consider it for 2025, but not for 2022.
Senate Bill No. 7, filed by Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Cynthia Villar, proposes an electoral system that would use manual voting and counting at the precinct level and electronic transmission and canvassing.
“The mixed mode is aimed at ensuring credible, accurate and transparent elections,” Sotto previously said in pushing for the bill.
The measure has yet to be endorsed by the Senate electoral reforms panel for plenary discussion.
The Senate is expected to have its hand full with priority legislation to tackle when it resumes session on November 9, starting with the P4.5-trillion proposed 2021 budget.
Aside from the budget, the senators are also set to continue debates on the proposed Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act and the Financial Institutions Strategic Transfer (FIST) bill, both certified as urgent by President Duterte.