Commission on Elections Commissioner Rowena Guanzon said on Monday, May 17, that election workers of the poll body should be vaccinated already against COVID-19 if the Philippines wants to meet its target of voter applications before the September 30 deadline.
“Nationwide, we have around 6,500 personnel. That’s divided in all those provinces. That’s affordable for the local government units (LGUs),” Guanzon said in an interview with Teleradyo.
“Hindi naman siguro magagalit ang taumbayan kung mauna ang election officers kasi public interest naman ito. Frontliners din naman kami,” she said. (I don’t think the public would be mad if election officers are prioritized because this is a matter of public interest. We are frontliners too.)
She noted that the provincial election supervisor of Cavite province already succumbed to COVID-19 earlier this year.
“Ang hinihiling po namin sa mga mayors, bakunahan na iyong mga election assistants at election officers namin,” she said. (We appeal to mayors to have our election assistants and election officers vaccinated already [against COVID-19].)
Local government units however only follow national government guidelines, which dictate that only people under A1 to A3 categories are allowed to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
These people are health frontline workers, senior citizens, and persons with comorbidities.
Next in line are people under category A4, which includes “frontline government workers in charge of tax collection, assessment of businesses for incentives, election, national ID, and data collection personnel.”
The government has yet to give LGUs the green light for the vaccination of individuals under category A4.
Guanzon said the vaccination of election workers is crucial for the poll body to be able to start mounting registration sites in the barangays.
The Comelec has set a target of seven million registrations before the deadline on September 30, 2021.
Based on the data released by the poll body on Monday, the Comelec has processed over 3.4 million applications.
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez previously expressed optimism that the poll body would be able to meet its target, but Guanzon expressed worries.
“Hindi na po kami aabot (We won’t meet our target)… September 30 is the deadline. There’s no extension,” Guanzon argued. — Rappler.com