Senator seeks special polling places in COVID quarantine facilities

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 30 2021 05:11 PM

Health workers attend to returning Manila residents at the San Andres Quarantine Facility in Manila on Jan. 4, 2021. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File
Health workers attend to returning Manila residents at the San Andres Quarantine Facility in Manila on Jan. 4, 2021. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - Voting inside quarantine and isolation facilities should be allowed in the 2022 polls, a lawmaker said Monday, as Philippines continued registering thousands of new COVID cases daily.

Senate Committee on Electoral Reforms chairperson Imee Marcos said the government should also deploy health workers to polling precincts on election day as ballots will be cast at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

Under the law, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) is allowed to mount special polling places for inmates and that can be replicated in quarantine or isolation facilities, she said in an online press conference.

"Sa NCR (National Capital Region) pa lang ang dami-dami pa ring naka-quarantine. Kawawa naman. May sakit na nag sila, hindi mo pa sila pabobotohin," she said.

(There are many who are still in quarantine in NCR alone. They are pitiful. They are already sick and yet they would not be allowed to exercise their right to vote.)

"Hayaan natin ang Comelec kung kakayanin nila [dalhin] 'yung balota," she said.

(We should let the Comelec do it if they have the capacity to bring the ballots there.)

"I believe we have to include health workers in polling places kung saka-sakali itong vulnerable sectors natin ay magkasakit, dapat nandiyan sila agad (so that they can immediately respond should our vulnerable sector fall sick)," she said.

The Senate panel is also considering the creation of special polling places for the vulnerable sector, which includes pregnant women, the elderly and those with comorbidites, she said.

Marcos said she would move to increase the Comelec's budget for 2022 after the poll commission's allocation was reportedly slashed by at least P15 billion.

The Comelec sought a P41.92 billion budget for 2022 but the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) only allocated P26.49 billion, under the National Expenditure Program (NEP) submitted to Congress.

"Sabi nung iba kailangan ng pera para sa pandemic pero kung may kuwestiyon sa lehitemasiya ng gobyerno natin sa panahon ng pandemiya, mas delikado yun," she said.

(Some said that more money should be allocated during the pandemic, but it will be more dangerous if there will be a question about the legitimacy of our government at the time of this pandemic.)