"How can we ensure peaceful, credible, and safe elections next year?"
Less than six months from now, candidates for the May 2022 elections will start filing their certificates of candidacy. We cannot say that one year until the polls is a short time. Then, some 60 million to 70 million Filipinos will troop to their precincts and elect their President, Vice President, 12 senators, and local representatives for Congress and local government units or LGUs. Santa Banana, it’s sooner than you think!
The problem, my gulay, is that the COVID-19 pandemic will certainly still be around for another year and even beyond.
So will there even be an election?
A no-el scenario is difficult to imagine. People will surely not go for it. There will surely be a revolution.
Still, I brought this up because with us still dealing with COVID-19, I cannot imagine the campaign going as it usually has. Can you imagine crowds gathering and candidates talking on stage promising how they would make life better for them?
I have covered almost 10 presidents in their campaigns here in Metro Manila, and I know that people want candidates to answer their questions in person. There is no substitute for a face-to-face campaign. But, my gulay, that would be impossible now!
This is why I am calling on the Commission on Elections to study ways of conducting elections safely,
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It may be argued that with the Internet, campaigns can now be done online. But not every Filipino has a gadget and an internet connection. That would be a big problem. The candidates can try reaching out to the voters but it would take a lot of money. And then the rich candidates will have an edge over the poor ones.
There is also the problem of voting. Voting personally in designated precincts is not so much of a problem, But many people live miles away from a precinct. There are normally buses and jeepneys to bring them to the voting centers, but remember there is a pandemic.
And then, how will the votes be counted? This is another problem for the Comelec.
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The possibility of “herd immunity” which the government hopes to attain by the end of the year with no less than 60 million to 70 people to be vaccinated is hardly possible, according to experts. How does this play out in an election season? The people want a safe but also peaceful and honest election.
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The emergence of ivermectin, a veterinary medicine to get rid of animal’s parasites, has created a lot of confusion among the people.
The Food and Drug Administration has given three hospitals “Compassional Special Permit” (CSP) to administer ivermectin to their COVID-19 patients. Still, the FDA warns that doctors who prescribe ivermectin could be held accountable and responsible for any bad side effects. This is why doctors are wary about prescribing the drug for the people to prevent and even cure COVID-19.
Two party-list lawmakers recently distributed free ivermectin capsules to a barangay in Quezon City. Justice Secretary Menardo Jimenez said this act could be in violation of the law creating the FDA. My gulay, while there are those who swear by the ivermectin as a preventive drug to avoid infection and transmission, doctors still hesitate to prescribe the animal drug as a sure-fire way to get immune from COVID-19.
Alas, in the midst of all the confusion, the FDA, much more the IATF, remains silent. Therein lies the shortcoming of the government to make things transparent and clear to the people.
This boils down to the failed response by the government to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The argument of those pushing ivermectin is that it is both preventive and curative, and other nations have already adopted it officially. Personally, I’m not taking my chances. I would rather wait until my personal doctor who knows my medical history prescribes it.
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The MDT or Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951 with the United States provides that in case the Philippines is invaded by another country, the US is obligated to come to the defense of the Philippines. In fact, the US has been reiterating this in the wake of the incursion of China into the Philippine waters in the West Philippine Sea and in the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), I’ll discuss this more in detail in my next column.