May 27, 2024

Senior citizens, persons with disability, pregnant women, and other members of the vulnerable sector in Baguio will have an exclusive area within polling precincts during the May 9 national elections as part of the health and safety measures being prepared by the Commission on Elections Cordillera.
The area, called emergency accessible polling places (EAPP), will be available in 107 out of the 129 polling centers in the city.
Atty. Vanessa Roncal, Comelec assistant regional director, said the EAPP will be located within the ground level and near the entrance of polling precincts and especially dedicated for the vulnerable sector where they do not have to be mixed with the general voting population to ensure their ease and safety while they vote.
“Aside from being vulnerable, we do not like them to be mixed with the general voting population in their condition, since we do not know what will happen. Tents will be set up close to the entrance of the polling center so they no longer have to enter. They can already vote there,” Roncal told the Courier in an interview last week.
Aside from the EAPP, Roncal said a voter’s assistance desk will also be set in all schools/polling centers in the region to be manned by volunteers who can be approached and help voters find their way inside the polling center.
They are also in the process of printing voter’s information sheets, which they are hoping to send to voters to also guide them prior to going to their respective voting precincts.
The VIS contains the voter’s name, precinct number, and the name of the school where their precinct is located, which will prevent instances where voters get lost, spend too much time in polling areas, and some not being able to vote.
“As long as the voter has the correct or updated address in the registered voters’ list we will be doing our best to send them so they will receive them on time,” she said.
Roncal said these steps are among the adjustments undertaken by the Comelec to assure safe and secure elections during the Covid-19 pandemic, entailing the agency additional personnel, such as medical officers and safety protocol officers to make sure everybody is safe and follows the health protocols.
She said they are currently conducting voters’ education to encourage the people to go out and have their votes counted even during this period of health emergency.
“We are doing everything we can to make the voting experience nice and safe and secure for everybody. I think this is one exercise where all are actively involved because we are working hand in hand with everyone – national agencies, the police, army, church, media, volunteers, local government units – in educating voters so they will exercise their right to be counted safely even during the pandemic,” Roncal said. – Hanna C. Lacsamana