MANILA, Philippines — With granular lockdowns in place in most areas in the country, even those scheduled for vaccination are barred from going out.
Many have expressed concern that if the same scenario is observed during the national elections next year, voters might not be allowed to go out to vote.
According to election lawyer Atty. George Erwin Garcia, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) must work with the Inter Agency Task Force (IATF) and other concerned agencies to carefully study the provisions on the implementation of granular lockdowns especially on election day.
He said the measure could be abused especially by a politician who is not getting much support in a particular area.
“Kasi kung iyong isang barangay kalaban ko lahat yan, gagawa ako ng paraan with all due respect na hindi makaboto ang mga botante dyan sa barangay na iyan. Ilalockdown na lang iyan. Gagawan ng paraan: ‘May three kasing nagpositive dyan, lockdown yan, walang makakalabas,'” Garcia said.
Garcia added that COVID-positive individuals should not be allowed to vote as well as those already under quarantine. However, those showing symptoms must be assigned an isolation area near the polling precinct.
“Ibig sabihin hindi mo sila itataboy. Hindi mo sila pipigilan. pero ituturo mo sila sa isang lugar kung saan sila puwedeng makaboto. Hindi dahil may COVID-19 sila kung nagpapakita man sila ng sintomas,” Garcia explained.
The election expert stressed that declaring a failure of election is not easy.
This is because based on the Omnibus Election Code, a failure of election can only be declared if in the event of terrorism, violence, fraud, force majuere like earthquake, tsunami and other natural causes.
“Iyong COVID-19, hindi siya force majeure. Kapag sinabing force majeure, act of God o hindi mo inaasahan. Biglang na-flat ang gulong mo, hindi ko inaasahan. Pero kung ineexpect mo, nakita mo na nandyan, hindi iyon force majeure. Therefore, hindi madya-justify ang failure of election,” Garcia said.
But the Palace believes that Comelec may reset the election in an area under lockdown.
The government hopes the turn out of events would improve next year since many have already been vaccinated.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said, “Kampante po ako gaya ng sinasabi ng ating mga dalubhasa, habang dumadami po ang ating mga nababakunahan kapag nagkaroon na ng population protection or containment, tingin ko naman magbabalikbuhay tayong lahat.” MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)