Malacañang prefers to leave it to the wisdom of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to decide on the proposed expansion of mail voting in the 2022 presidential elections.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque recognized that the Comelec is a constitutional body tasked to implement laws and regulations on the conduct of the country’s elections.
Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon earlier proposed allowing persons with disabilities, elderly and pregnant women to vote by mail in the country’s upcoming elections. The poll official is confident that mail voting would lead to a higher turnout of voters on election day, citing the success in the United States and South Korea’s electoral process.
“We respect that recommendation coming as it does from a legal luminary within the Comelec and under the Constitution it is tasked of course with the supervision and conduct of elections,” Roque said during a televised press briefing.
“Pero ang hindi ko lang po sigurado kung kinakailangan pang maamyendahan iyong Omnibus Election Code para ma-include iyong mail voting. Pero we leave that to the wisdom of the Comelec (But I’m not sure if there is a need to amend the Omnibus Election Code to include mail voting. We leave that to the wisdom of the Comelec),” he added.
At present, the Comelec allows voting by mail but only for overseas voting.
Guanzon said expanding the local absentee would allow more sectors to vote ahead of election day. It would also reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission amid the pandemic, she added.
Meantime, the Palace encouraged the eligible Filipinos to participate in voters’ registration for the May 2022 national and local elections. The registration period, organized by the poll body, will run until Sept. 30, 2021.
“Well, hinihikayat po natin ang lahat na pupuwede nang magrehistro, magrehistro po kayo at pagdating po ng halalan sa Mayo 2022 dapat po lumabas at bumoto dahil ito po’y obligasyon natin sa ating inang bayan (We are encouraging everyone who can register to register already. On May 2022 elections, voters must go out and vote because this is our obligation to our country),” Roque said.
Comelec resumed the nationwide registration of voters last Sept. 1 in preparation for the May 2022 elections. The registration was suspended back in March after the government implemented a strict lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Poll authorities reportedly expect that up to 4 million Filipinos to register during this period. The country is expected to have around 62 million voters by the 2022 elections.