Philippine News Agency : Election during pandemic? Israel ready to share tips

30 July 2021

By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora | Philippine News Agency

MANILA – Israel is ready to share with the Philippine government its knowledge and tools for the safe conduct of the upcoming elections despite the pandemic.

Chaim Markos Rafalowski, disaster management coordinator at Israel's national blood and medical emergency service Magen David Adom, said Friday they were able to stage two elections during the onset of the pandemic in March 2020 and March 2021.

"Maintaining all the measures, I am very proud to say that we did not see any increase in new cases due to the election day and at the same time, we as a country enabled all our citizens to participate in the democratic process," he said in a virtual presser.

Rafalowski is one of four Israeli medical experts who arrived in Manila for a five-day mission to observe the country's pandemic response and share their best practices on treating coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) patients.

In the recent elections in Israel, the government set up polls inside the coronavirus wards of hospitals and a system for people to vote even when they were undergoing home quarantine, he said.

"We have plenty of experience both on putting the guidelines for political rallies, these kinds of activities, but more important is how to set up a whole system. During our last election day, we had the whole system to allow people to exercise their democratic right to vote and at the same time being able to maintain all the restrictions," Rafalowski said.

"Israel, of course, through the Embassy in Manila, would be more than happy to share our experiences and the tools that we used that day."

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, meanwhile, said the Department of Health is scheduled to meet with the Commission on Elections en banc to help them come up with the health and safety protocols for the campaign period and the election proper.

"We are readying with the experts on how best we can continue to conduct the campaign activities and the electoral processes but making sure that there will be compliance to the usual minimum public health standards and more interventions (that are) preventive in nature. So we will sit down with them," Duque said.

The Philippines is scheduled to hold its national and local elections on May 9, 2022. (PNA)