The Philippine Star : IATF to tackle health protocols for 2022 polls

29 July 2021

By Romina Cabrera | The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte has directed the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to tackle health protocols for the 2022 elections.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said the IATF would coordinate with the Commission on Elections to implement measures to avoid unnecessary risks to voters.

“In the meeting with the President last Saturday, he gave guidelines to me and (Health) Secretary (Francisco) Duque to coordinate with the Commission on Elections to discuss how the election period from the time of candidacy to election day will flow,” he said in an interview on dzBB.

He said they need to come up with mechanisms and protocols on how to adjust the election season amid the pandemic, adding that mass gatherings would not be allowed due to the virus threat, especially with the new Delta variant.

“When campaigning, candidates may be physically present agreeing to the health standards and protocols or they can go online,” he said, noting that transmission surges in other countries like India and Indonesia were due to social activities.

“We will have to adjust but we will never allow mass gatherings. It’s a big no no,” he said.

Año stressed that the Comelec has already adjusted its registration protocols to ensure that voters would be safe even with the pandemic, adding that the registratioin period is now one year.

‘No Oplan Tokhang’

Meanwhile, Sen. Panfilo Lacson and Senate President Vicente Sotto III vowed yesterday to eliminate “Oplan Tokhang” in the government’s anti-drug campaign if they win in the 2022 elections.

Lacson said his team would instead implement a comprehensive drive against illegal drugs, which includes rehabilitation and prevention.

Under the Oplan Tokhang, at least 6,600 suspected drug offenders have been killed in police operations since President Duterte took office in 2016. The Philippine National Police reported that 240,565 suspected pushers and users were arrested from July 1, 2016 to May 31, 2019.

During the Kapihan sa Maynila forum yesterday, Lacson said Sotto had assured him that he would handle the campaign against illegal drugs. – Cecille Suerte Felipe