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COVID-Proofing the May 2022 Elections: December 2021 Update

Dear PARTICIPATE Pro-Democracy Coalition Members:

I hope this message finds you and your families well during these difficult times. I write with some important updates on our ongoing coalition work to strengthen citizens’ participation in our democracy, and notably in the 2022 national elections.

In a recent forum organized by PARTICIPATE coalition partner, National Citizens' Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL), the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) reported on steps being taken to prepare for the Philippine national and local elections in May 2022. More specifically, the election agency recently concluded a voting simulation in San Juan City in October 2021 and is currently preparing for a mock election in December 2021. COMELEC recently released guidelines for conducting the 2022 polls containing health and safety standards and protocols to mitigate, if not prevent, the transmission of the COVID-19 during the conduct of elections. These include, among others, the following:

  1. Guidelines for the conduct of: (1) In-person campaign, (2) Rallies, (3) Caucuses, Meetings, and Conventions, (4) Motorcades and Caravans, and (5) Miting de Avance under the New Normal in connection with the 9 May 2022 National and Local Elections;

  2. General Instructions for the Board of Canvassers (BOC) on the constitution, composition, and appointment; consolidation/canvass; and transmission of votes/canvass in connection with the 9 May 2022 National and Local Elections;

  3. Rules and Regulations Implementing Republic Act No. 9006;

  4. General Instructions for the constitution, composition, and appointment of Electoral Boards; The process of Final Testing and Sealing of the Vote Counting Machines; and the Voting, Counting, and Transmission of Election Results in connection with the 9 May 2022 National and Local Elections; and

  5. Rules and Regulations on Local Absentee Voting in connection with the 9 May 2022 National and Local Elections

These regulations provide that the following measures and those issued pursuant to the guidelines published by the National Government, DOH, IATF-MEID, and the Local Government Unit concerned, shall be observed at all times in all activities covered by these COMELEC resolutions, including, but not limited to:

  • Wearing of face mask;

  • Body temperature scanning;

  • One-meter physical distancing;

  • Frequent disinfection of hands;

  • Frequent disinfection of regularly-touched surfaces;

  • Proper cough and sneezing etiquette; and

  • Submission of Health Declaration Form.

The COMELEC also established an Isolation Polling Place (IPP) in every voting center so that voters who manifested any COVID-19 symptoms may still cast their vote. Moreover, a maximum of 10 voters will only be allowed inside the polling precinct at any given time on Election Day.

PARTICIPATE released a statement in 10 May 2021 to support adequate resource allocations for COMELEC in the 2022 budget, specifically to support its preparations for holding the elections under pandemic conditions. At the present time, the Executive Branch’s proposal for COMELEC’s 2022 budget is P26.7 billion. This represents a P16.6 billion increase from holding the Senatorial elections in 2019 and P10.7 billion increase from the last Presidential elections in 2016. This increase represents roughly the same increase in resources estimated by our analytics team in order to adequately “COVID-proof” the May 2022 elections. Our preliminary analysis reveals the main expenditure items for COVID-proofing the elections include: