JOINT Task Force COVID Shield commander, Lieutenant General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar yesterday renewed his call on minors and senior citizens who are most vulnerable to virus transmission to temporarily defer their plans to register for the 2022 elections.
“Hindi po bawal ‘yun subalit ang sitwasyon parang mass gathering ‘yan. Since ang registration natin ay aabot hanggang September 2021 ‘wag na muna pong makipagsabayan at ito po ay delikado para sa kanila,” said the official.
Eleazar said they are making the appeal since the threat of catching COVID-19 is still high despite projections by health authorities its curve will be flattened this month.
“Ang voters registration po ay hanggang September 2021 pa kaya nakikiusap po tayo sa mga kababayan nating menor de edad pa at mga senior citizen na ipagpaliban muna ang pag-register dahil masyadong delikado pa para sa kanila ang lumabas at makihalubilo sa maraming tao na magpapa-rehistro,” said the newly-designated Philippine National Police Deputy Chief for Administration.
The official confirmed he has heard talks that the Metro Manila Council plans to ask the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to delay the registration due to the continuous rise of infections. The Commission on Elections reopened the voter registration process last September 1 after months of delay due to the community quarantine implementation across the country.
“Yun po ang ating narinig sa mga nakarang talakayan. Kami naman po sa Joint Task Foce COVID Shield ay humihimok sa ating mga kababayan na habang wala pang suspension nito ay sana po madiscourage natin ‘yung mga matatanda, mga senior citizens, at mga minors na magparegister,” he said.
The IATF has recommended the suspension of the voter registration but the decision will lie on the hands of the Comelec.
Acting on instructions of PNP chief, General Camilo Pancratius P. Cascolan, police nationwide have secured ongoing voter registration in their areas in order to ensure that minimum government health protocols are being observed to help prevent further spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus.
Eleazar said following a go-signal from Gen. Cascolan, he has instructed police commanders to coordinate with the local offices of the Commission on Elections in securing the voter registration in their respective areas of responsibilities.
The move is meant at ensuring that quarantine protocols such as wearing of face masks and face shields will be observed during the registration period, he said.
“Police personnel should be always present in the areas where voter registration is held not only to maintain peace and order but also to make sure that the minimum health safety standard protocols are observed strictly,” the official said.
“Securing the voter registration should be until the last days of the schedule since we all know that people usually flock to the Comelec offices to register a few days leading to the deadline,” he added.
Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo M. Año earlier said that mayors of Metro Manila are planning to ask the Comelec to re-schedule the start of the voter registration in the National Capital Region since it is not yet safe for any form of mass gathering such as voters’ registration.
“Metro Manila mayors are requesting the Comelec to move the registration to January because this would be a form of mass gathering and they do not want to have a surge of COVID-19 cases especially now that there are indications that the curve is already starting to flatten,” said the DILG chief who himself is still recuperating after having a 2nd bout with COVID-19.
The voters’ registration however are only being held in areas under the General Community Quarantine and Modified GCQ. The registration is automatically suspended in areas under Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) and Modified ECQ.
Eleazar said police commanders are tasked to coordinate with local Comelec officials for any form of assistance for the protection of the people and Comelec personnel from the virus.
He also urged those who would register to follow the health safety protocols of the Comelec such as bringing their own pens for the signing of the documents and downloading the Comelec form and filling it out in their homes in order to avoid spending much time during the registration.
“While it is an obligation to register, it also comes with the obligation to protect yourselves amid the threat of the coronavirus. Let us all follow the minimum health safety standard protocols in order to ensure that we would be able to cast our votes when the election comes,” said Eleazar.