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[With EMBs] Commission on Elections of the Republic of the Philippines
Last updated 2021-12-02

 

Palawan plebiscite: the first voting in the midst of COVID-19 (Commission on Elections of the Republic of the Philippines) 

The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) of the Republic of the Philippines reported that it successfully conducted the plebiscite on whether residents of Palawan approve or reject the move to divide the province into three. It was the first election in the Philippines with the implementation of health protocols since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the new voting process, the voters took temperature checks and had to fill up health forms that were submitted to local officials. Here the Secretariat shares the interview with the COMELEC discussing the election management in the midst of COVID-19.?

 

Question 1: Which election(s) were held in 2021 in the Philippines?

Answer: The Plebiscite to Ratify the Division of the Province of Palawan was held in the province of Palawan on 13 March 2021. The plebiscite was conducted to obtain Palawan residents’ consent on the proposal to divide the province into three provinces, namely 1) Palawan del Norte; 2) Palawan Oriental; and 3) Palawan del Sur.


Question 2: How did COVID-19 change the election process and election management? 

Answer:

 - Face-to-face meetings with the plebiscite working committees were avoided.

 - The COVID-19 health protocols that were implemented during the plebiscite had to be approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) before preparations could begin, such as procurement of necessary supplies.

 - The rules and regulations that would be observed during the voting, counting, and canvassing of votes had to be revised to include health protocols.

 - Poll workers, mostly teachers, who had co-morbidities, were pregnant, or senior citizens could not serve during the voting event.

 - The number of voters voting at the same time inside the polling place was limited to five.

 - Isolated polling places were established for voters with fever.

 - Generally, the voter turnout for the Palawan Plebiscite was higher than the past plebiscites.

 

Question 3: Do you have any upcoming election(s), plan of actions or future election management changes you wish to share with A-WEB and Member EMBs?

Answer: As of now, we expect two plebiscites that might be conducted before the 2022 National and Local Elections. However, due to the pandemic, protocols related to COVID-19 during the plebiscites need to be approved by the IATF-EID, hence, the date for the elections has not been set yet.