WE CALL the attention of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to make a further study of their proposal to ban the physical campaign of candidates in the 2022 polls.
In the recent pronouncement of Comelec, they are planning to do away with face-to-face campaigns for the 2022 presidential elections to prevent the spread of Covid-19 with its alarming mutation to different and various variants.
There are pros and cons on this proposal that should be studied by the poll body. While we should not risk the safety not only of the candidates but more importantly of the voters who will be more exposed to Covid-19, let us put in mind how do we discern the quality and sincerity of those vying for government office if the campaign will just be done online.
Comelec clarified that the proposal is not yet final as they are still coordinating with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases on the matter. With this, we encourage the poll body to consult different sectors, particularly those living in the rural areas, and understand if the suggestion of shifting to online campaigns would be a practical move.
For instance, people living in the municipal area who have face-to-face conversations with candidates urge them more to vote. According to some recent study, the so-called election campaign technique boosts the turnout and could help the candidates by around 20-30 percent.
Prohibiting door-to-door campaigns and giving out election materials will result in demand for longer airtime in television and radio advertisements and/or more online space for election campaigns. Consequently, this will require amendment of the law.
The country is still facing the bigger problem of access to the internet because some areas still have slow or no internet connection at all. This will make it difficult for people to thoroughly know their candidates through online campaigning.
We recognize that the online shift will make a big change in the campaign landscape for the upcoming polls. However, a clean, truthful, trustworthy and practical election should always be the topmost priorities.
We are hopeful that things will little by little come back to normal, including the anticipated activities this coming 2022 elections. Be that as it may, we urge the Comelec to look into and study all possible campaign means that can be allowed within the framework of existing health protocols and choose those which can strike a balance between health safety and quality voters’ participation.