IATF sets health protocols for plebiscite to divide Palawan

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 09 2020 01:42 PM | Updated as of Oct 09 2020 02:03 PM

Pangalusian Island in El Nido, Palawan. Handout photo

MANILA - An inter-agency task force leading the country's pandemic response has set health protocols for the conduct of a plebiscite to ratify the division of Palawan into 3 provinces, Malacañang said Friday. 

The guidelines that the IATF approved in its Resolution 78 included holding the voting over 2 days, and limiting the number of voters per room to 5 at any particular time, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement. 

Registered voters between the ages of 18 and 21 years old and those who are 60 years old and above, those with immunodeficiency, comorbidity, or other health risks, and pregnant women shall be "exempt from mobility restrictions for the purpose of voting," he said. 

President Rodrigo Duterte gives a public statement after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang on Oct. 5, 2020. Simeon Celi, Presidential Photo

Pregnant women, the elderly, and those with underlying health problems are vulnerable to developing serious symptoms of the novel coronavirus disease, health experts earlier said. 

The IATF encourages the Commission on Elections "to devise safety mechanisms and procedures so confirmed COVID-19 and/or symptomatic patients can exercise their right to vote," said Roque. 

President Rodrigo Duterte approved in April 2019 the law that divides the country’s westernmost province into Palawan del Norte, Palawan Oriental and Palawan del Sur.
 
The law's plebiscite is set in the first quarter of 2021, according to the IATF resolution. Initially set in May this year, the Comelec suspended the plebiscite due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Philippines has confirmed 331,869 coronavirus infections as of Thursday. It has the highest caseload in Southeast Asia, according to a dashboard by the Johns Hopkins University.