The holding of the traditional face-to-face campaigning for the upcoming 2022 elections is still possible, depending on the success of the government’s mass immunization drive, Malacañang said on Thursday.
In a virtual presser, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in-person campaigns could still be done, if the government reaches its goal to vaccinate “100 percent” of the adult population.
“We are aiming to vaccinate 100 percent of our adult population within the year of 2021. So syempre hindi mo naman mababalewala na kung tayo makakamit natin yung target na ‘yun, eh baka maibsan ang ating mga alinlangan sa face-to-face campaigning (So of course, we cannot discount the possibility that we might consider face-to-face campaigning if we are able to reach our target),” Roque said.
Under the Omnibus Election Code, candidates for national positions shall have 90 days to campaign while candidates for local positions shall have 46 days.
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez, in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel on Tuesday, floated the possibility that face-to-face campaigning might be prohibited for the 2022 national and local elections to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in the country.
Jimenez said online campaign might be pushed to ensure the voters’ safety amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, the Comelec will still be coordinating with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to discuss its plan.
‘Too early’ to ban F2F campaign
Roque said it is “too early” to rule out the possible conduct of face-to-face campaign.
“We respect that the Comelec is a constitutional body tasked with holding and supervision of elections. I’m sure the issue will be discussed beyond Comelec and will also include the IATF,” he said. “Let’s wait what will happen to our vaccination campaign dahil meron pa naman tayong panahon (because we still have time).”
Roque issued the statement, as he acknowledged that the electorate need to know the candidates well through “all forms of campaigning”.
“Kinakailangang makilala ng taumbayan ang kanilang mga kandidato so lahat po ng form of campaigning will be preferred. Kaya lang nga po, may pandemya nga. Iyan po ay katotohanan so tignan muna natin kung maiibsan natin ang ating problema sa pamamagitan ng bakuna (Voters need to know the candidates so all forms of campaigning will be preferred. However, there is still pandemic. That’s the truth so let’s see if the problem would be solved through our vaccination program),” he said.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the IATF-EID would let Comelec decide on the holding of campaign activities, saying the commission is an independent constitutional body.
Nograles, nevertheless, said the task force is willing to give advice, if sought by Comelec.
“It’s an independent constitutional body and because they have to maintain their independence then we will not seek them out, they might ask for our advice if ever,” Nograles, co-chairperson of IATF-EID, said in a separate virtual presser.
The Philippine government is expecting to secure a total of around 178 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine that will be administered to some 92 million individuals.
About 70 million Filipino adults are covered by the Duterte administration’s Covid-19 vaccination program which is expected to commence this month. (Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos/PNA)