By Robertzon Ramirez | The Philippine Star
MANILA, Philippines — Voters testing positive for COVID-19 and still completing isolation will not be allowed by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to cast their ballots in the May 9, 2022 national and local elections.
Comelec spokesman James Jimenez made this clear in a Viber message to reporters Friday night, saying they never considered allowing COVID-19 patients into polling precincts to avoid mass transmission of the virus.
“The Comelec is fully cognizant of the risks – both to the patient and the public – associated with making a COVID-positive person go out to vote. This being so, the idea of requiring such persons to leave their isolation facilities was never really on the table,” Jimenez said.
Earlier, Health Undersecretary Rosario Vergerie asked the Comelec to explore alternatives such as digital voting for COVID-19 patients in isolation, but Jimenez emphasized that the law states no other alternative means of casting their ballots other than in-person voting.
“As to the possibility of alternative means of voting, unfortunately these are not authorized by law and will not be employed on 9 May 2022,” he said.
He also clarified Comelec Chairman Sheriff Abas’ pronouncement that they would set-up “isolation polling places or IPPs” on Election Day for individuals manifesting COVID-19 symptoms, saying these are not for those already diagnosed as COVID positive.
Jimenez said the IPPs are intended to serve individuals who would present COVID-19 symptoms upon arrival at the polling centers so that instead of turning them away at that moment, they could cast their votes away from the general public.
“While these persons may indeed turnout to be COVID positive, they will not be turned away automatically just because they are suspected to be potential cases. Instead, they will be directed to IPPs where they can vote away from the general public, with all the necessary precautions appropriate to their health condition,” he said.
During Thursday’s Laging Handa media briefing, Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon appealed to registered voters who, during Election Day, may be aware they are COVID-positive to exempt themselves from going out to vote to spare others from catching the virus.
“Take pity on your fellowmen,” Guanzon said in Filipino. “If you know you’ve got COVID, don’t go out to vote.”
At the voting precincts, voters will first have to fill out a health declaration form before being allowed to cast their ballots, so she urged everyone to be honest about their health condition.