Coronavirus Pandemic Freezes Philippines Presidential Election

Gathered supporters of boxing icon Manny Pacquiao hold a banner as Pacquiao files his candidacy for the Philippines' upcoming presidential election, scheduled to be held on May 2022, outside an election office in Manila on October 1, 2021. (Photo by Ted ALJIBE / AFP) (Photo by TED ALJIBE/AFP via Getty …
TED ALJIBE/AFP via Getty Images

Three top candidates for the Philippines’ May 2022 presidential election, including boxer-turned-senator Manny Pacquiao and Ferdinand Marcos Jr., announced the temporary suspension of major campaign activities on Monday due to a recent surge in Chinese coronavirus cases nationwide, the Philippine Star reported.

Sen. Pacquiao, Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. — the son of former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos — and Philippine Vice President Leni Robredo are three of the top candidates vying for the Philippine presidency in the country’s upcoming general election. The offices of all three candidates have suspended in-person gatherings to support their political campaigns from January 3 to January 15.

“We need to allow the government to take all the appropriate steps to address the rising number of COVID [Chinese coronavirus] cases,” Sen. Pacquiao said in a statement issued on January 3.

“For this, I have advised my team to temporarily suspend all political gatherings and focus more on organizing zoom meetings until this surge is managed by our health authorities,” the senator said.

Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.’s spokesman, Vice Rodriguez, issued a statement on Monday revealing all “public appearances, sorties and assemblies” related to the former Philippine senator’s presidential campaign are suspended from January 3 to January 15.

“However, campaign preparations and other administrative functions of the UniTeam [campaign] will proceed non-stop through work-from-home arrangement and virtual meetings of the concerned staffers and campaign personnel,” Rodriguez said.

Marcos, Jr. ordered the temporary closure of his campaign headquarters in Manila on January 3 after more than 20 of the site’s staff tested positive for the Chinese coronavirus earlier that same day. Philippine Vice President Leni Robredo similarly ordered her campaign headquarters in Manila to shutter its doors on January 3 due to a rising number of coronavirus cases in the metropolis.

“Let us protect our loved ones and help lessen the cases of COVID-19 [Chinese coronavirus] by our sacrifice,” Robredo said in a statement issued January 3.

Metro Manila is home to roughly 13 million people. The region serves as the Philippines’ seat of government and contains the city of Manila, which is the national capital. Metro Manila health authorities tightened anti-virus measures in the urban center from January 3 to January 15 after recording a sharp spike in Chinese coronavirus cases over the past week.

“Restaurants, parks, churches, and beauty salons will open at lower capacities to limit mobility,” Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesman, Karlo Nograles, told reporters of the new restrictions on December 31.

“In-person classes and contact sports are suspended,” Nograles said, adding, “localized lockdowns targeting specific buildings, streets, and neighborhoods will also be enforced.”

Metro Manila health officials documented 4,084 new coronavirus cases in the national capital territory on January 3, according to the Philippine Star.


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