The Department of Health strongly suggested Friday to the Commission on Elections to allow COVID-positive patients to vote by just texting the poll body who their chosen candidates would be for the 2022 May elections.
But the Comelec immediately ruled out the possibility of having alternative means of casting a vote, like through online or text messaging, for COVID-19 positive patients, its spokesperson James Jimenez said.
“As to the possibility of alternative means of voting, unfortunately these are not authorized by law and will not be employed on 9 May 2022,” Jimenez told reporters in a Viber message.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told an online news briefing the Comelec should allow alternative voting modes for COVID-positive voters as letting them go out of their quarantine areas might lead to further transmission of cases.
“We all know that when a patient goes out of his/her room or area that person can infect other people,” Vergeire said, hoping the Comelec would have an alternative mode like casting ballots virtually through SMS or mobile texting.
Comelec Chairperson Sheriff Abas said last week that they would set up isolation areas where COVID-19 patients can cast their ballots.
However, Abas said it would be a different case for the poll servers, as they will not be allowed to serve in the elections should they test positive for COVID-19.
Abas said the Comelec had been coordinating with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to finalize the guidelines for the upcoming polls.
Meanwhile, the Commission on Higher Education is backing the call to extend voter registration deadline for the 2022 national and local elections.
CHR spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia said lockdown implementation in many locations due to COVID-19 had put a lot of toll and delays in the whole voter registration process.
“Together with the Senate, Congress and other civil society organizations, CHR joins the call to extend the deadline of voter registration in the Philippines,” she said.
“While we recognize that the proposed extension may further delay the preparatory activities of the Commission on Election to ensure the smooth conduct of the automated elections in May 2022, the CHR asserts that eligible voters must be given the opportunity to register safely and to avoid any case of voter disenfranchisement. Given the current health and economic crises that we are confronted with, reasonable accommodations must be provided for individuals that experience difficulty in lodging their applications,” she added.