‘LGUs will have discretion on allowing Covid-19 patients to vote’

·4 min read

WHETHER or not voters with coronavirus disease (Covid-19) would be allowed to break their isolation or quarantine to cast their vote on May 9, 2022 would depend on the local government units (LGUs), a poll official said.

Lawyer Jerome Brillantes, acting elections supervisor of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) Cebu Provincial Office, said the Comelec en banc has not yet issued a resolution concerning voters with Covid-19 who are isolating at home or in facilities.

Brillantes said the decision to allow Covid-19 patients to break their isolation to be able to vote would be up to the LGUs concerned.

“Depende gyud na sa LGU. For example naka isolate siya, naka quarantine siya, so I think dili gyud siya pagawson. So I think dili gyud siya kabotar (It will depend on the LGU. For example, a voter is on isolation or under quarantine, I think he or she would not be allowed to go out to vote),” he said, adding he hopes the Comelec en banc will release a resolution on the matter soon.

It is the en banc that has immediate and direct control and supervision over the national and local officials and employees during the election period.

‘Not absolute’

While the vote of individuals with Covid-19 would be a waste, Brillantes emphasized that the right to vote is not an absolute right, citing the case of voters who have been deactivated for failing to vote in two consecutive elections.

Comelec Commissioner George Garcia on Thursday, April 28, said if Covid-19 patients will be allowed to leave their homes or isolation centers, they can vote in isolation polling centers (IPPs).

Garcia said at present, Comelec guidelines do not allow the transport of ballots to isolation facilities.

For her part, Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, chief pathologist of the Department of Health in Central Visayas, said Covid-19 patients should not be allowed to go to polling places during the elections.

“Since Covid-19 is considered an infectious illness, confirmed Covid patients should not be allowed to go to polling precincts as this can endanger others and may contract the virus,” said Loreche.

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez also clarified earlier that IPPs are not intended for Covid-19 patients but only for the symptomatic voters.

Voters who register with a body temperature of at least 37.5 or higher on the second check on election day will be allowed to vote at the IPP.

Brillantes said the Comelec support staff wearing protective equipment would be the one to facilitate and get the ballots for symptomatic voters from their respective precincts.

He also clarified that they will not require voters to wear a face shield and to present their vaccination cards at the polling precincts.

What will be required is the wearing of face masks and the voter should be a registered voter in that LGU.

Ready for polls

Meanwhile, Brillantes said they are now 100 percent ready for the May 9 elections in the province, having already distributed all the ballots to the 44 municipalities and six component cities on Saturday.

In Mandaue City, Election Officer Evelyn Cueva assured that each clustered precinct will follow health protocols and guidelines on May 9.

Cueva said there would be volunteers from Mandaue City’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in all the precincts who will check each voter’s temperature and overall health condition upon entry.

This is to make sure that symptomatic voters will be brought to the IPP, which would have a medical staff and support staff that will assist the voters.

A maximum of 15 people, depending on the size of the voting area, will be accommodated to avoid overcrowding and to maintain social distancing in each clustered precinct.

In a related development, a total of 964 ballot boxes were delivered to the Cebu City Treasurer’s Office (CCTO) Finance Center on Saturday, April 30, 2022.

Juanita Monina Paires, operations officer of the CCTO, said the ballot boxes will be temporarily stored at the CCTO before these will be delivered to the different polling precincts at midnight on May 9.

Meanwhile, the three-day absentee voting for national positions held at the Abellana National School ended on Friday, April 29, 2022, without any hitch or untoward incident, said Brig. Gen. Roque Eduardo Vega, head of the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO 7).

According to the PRO 7, only 30 of the 2,767 police personnel who registered for the absentee voting failed to vote. Vega said he was satisfied with the voter turnout.(MKG /HIC / BBT, AYB/ TPT)

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