THE COMMISSION on Elections (Comelec) will hold a public demonstration of the procedures and health protocols that will be implemented for voters who exhibit coronavirus symptoms when they cast their ballots on May 9, according to an election commissioner.
A date has yet to be set for the simulation exercise.
Election Commissioner Aimee Torrefranca-Neri, who has just been appointed to head the poll body’s committee for the “new normal,” said it is crucial to ensure that health standards are followed and “COVID-proofing” the elections.
“An election is a super-spreader event and we are not out of the woods yet,” she told a news briefing on Thursday.
Comelec Spokesman James B. Jimenez earlier said that voting sites will have isolation polling places, which are separated booths or classrooms for voters who show symptoms of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
The isolation stations and protocols will be similar to what was implemented in last year’s Palawan plebiscite, the first electoral exercise conducted in the country amid a pandemic.
Non-partisan coalition PARTICIPATE earlier asked Comelec to designate personnel with medical training or knowledge for these separate voting stations.
Ms. Neri said Comelec will create its own medical advisory board to help provide and develop more timely policies and guidelines for the public.
The election body also plans to partner with medical groups to set up medical desks in polling venues to attend to voters with health-related issues during the election day.
The help-desk will prioritize individuals who are deemed vulnerable due to pre-existing conditions.
There are about 67.4 million registered voters, representing close to 60% of the Philippine population.
Mr. Jimenez said in January that there will be around 105,000 voting precincts this year compared to 80,000 during the 2019 elections in consideration of physical distancing.
Last month Comelec issued an order allowing persons with disabilities, senior citizens, and pregnant voters to cast their ballots in special voting areas that will have ramps, sign language interpreters, and accessible washrooms.
“While we exercise our right of suffrage, we must also protect the sanctity of life and right to health of our population,” said Ms. Neri. — John Victor D. Ordoñez