MANILA — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said Monday it plans to establish "isolated polling place" to allow people showing symptoms of fever to vote in next year's general election.
Comelec Commissioner Antonio Kho said the poll body is keen on adopting a practice from this year's Palawan plebiscite, where voters who registered a body temperature of 37 degrees Celsius and above were brought to a separate voting place, for the 2022 elections.
"Kung mataas talaga 'yong kaniyang temperature, dadalhin siya to what is known as the IPP - isolated polling place. Bagong sistema ito. So, lahat ng polling centers doon magkakaroon ng IPP. So bibigyan pa rin 'yong botante ng right to vote," Kho, who heads the Comelec's new normal committee, said in a webinar.
(If the voter really has a high temperature, they will be brought to what is known as the IPP - isolated polling place. This is a new system so all polling centers will have an IPP. We will still give voters their right to vote.)
Kho said the number of voters who will cast votes per precinct will also be limited to avoid crowding, a measure against the spread of COVID-19.
Voting hours will be extended but the Comelec en banc has yet to finalize on the number of hours, he said.
Kho said the Comelec is expected to finalize the guidelines for the 2022 polls by the end of May.
In the same webinar, Beverly Ho from the Department of Health stressed on the need for proper ventilation in polling centers.
"More information comes out now that ventilation plays a very big role [in COVID-19 prevention]. So if this is the case, are there certain areas that have been previously tagged as possible voting sites, could be now moved to other areas na mas (that are more) open air," Ho said.
Over 2,000 groups, meanwhile, signed a "unity statement" urging the national government and electoral stakeholders for a "COVID-proof" election.
"Lessons from the recently concluded Palawan plebiscite and several countries that recently held their elections showed us that it is possible to successfully hold democractic processes amidst the pandemic," the groups said in a statement.
The group also proposed an additional allocaiton of P10 billion for the Comelec to implement safety measures for voters and election workers.
Social media spending
Kho said the Comelec would now include social media expenditures in checking the candidate's campaign spending, which should be reflected in their statement of campaign contribution and expenditures.
Campaign rallies may no longer be held because they might become "super spreaders" of COVID-19, he said.
"Because of this COVID situation, 'yong participation ng social media sa campaign, talagang gagamitin ito ng mga kandidato," Kho said.
(Because of this COVID situation, candidates will surely use the participation of social media in campaigns.)
"Comelec came up with this regulation to consider social media as part of broadcast. So ngayon, may mga rules tayo diyan na if candidates would like to campaign using social media, we will consider them as if it is being broadcast," he said.
(Comelec came up with this regulation to consider social media as part of broadcast. So we now have rules that if the candidate would like to campaign using social media, we will consider them as if it is being broadcast.)
The commission is also looking at designating specific dates for the filing of the certificates of candidacies for each positions to avoid crowding at Comelec offices.
The filing of COCs for the May 9, 2022 elections is set to start on Oct. 1.