Speaker Velasco pushes for safe, free elections in 2022

BOAC, Marinduque — Speaker Lord Allan Velasco on Tuesday called on concerned government agencies to ensure that Filipinos are able to vote safely and freely in the May 2022 national elections despite the continuing threat of COVID-19.

In a virtual forum hosted by the House Committee on People’s Participation, Velasco underscored the need to balance the public need for a free and democratic elections with the need to keep everyone safe and healthy during the health crisis.

“The pandemic ground the world to an almost complete halt, but our democratic processes must endure. The greatest of these democratic processes, of course, is suffrage,” Velasco said in the forum titled, “Imagining the 2022 National Elections: the Many Ways the COVID-19 Pandemic can Impact the Electoral Process.”

“Ang ating mga kababayan ay nararapat na hayaang makapili ng mga mamumuno sa isang bukas at malayang eleksyon,” Velasco added.

Velasco said the recently concluded Palawan plebiscite served as a testing ground for the 2022 elections, with the implementation of health safety measures such as temperature checks, social distancing, and personal protective equipment or PPE for election frontliners.

The House leader believed the pandemic will most likely transform the traditional electoral system, just like what it did to the country’s educational system.

He said the person-to-person campaigns and public hall debates will most likely move to the online sphere.

“We must ensure, therefore, that the voice of those who have less in life, those who do not have easy access to internet-ready devices shall still be heard by the candidates,” he pointed out.

According to Velasco, the greatest challenge is to convince Filipinos, especially the youth, to go out and exercise their democratic right to vote in next year’s polls amid the ongoing pandemic.

“Like the most effective approach to the pandemic, this challenge should also be addressed through a whole-of-nation approach,” Velasco said.

“Obligasyon po nating lahat na hikayatin ang bawat isang Filipino, lalo na ang ating mga kabataan, na magparehistro upang makaboto at sa araw ng halalan ay pumunta sa mga presinto upang makaboto nang buong laya at katapatan,” he added.

Velasco thanked the committee, chaired by Rep. Florida Robes of the lone district of San Jose del Monte in Bulacan, for organizing the forum.

Among the resource persons invited to the forum were former Commission on Elections commissioner Luie Tito Guia, political strategist Malou Tiquia, and Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez. — Marinduquenews.com

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