The National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) is seeking to recruit over 100,000 volunteers to help monitor an unprecedented vote – one which will be conducted against the backdrop of a pandemic.
“Ideally, if we will cover more than 98,000 voting precincts, that’s the same number of volunteers we’re also aiming. But since the Commission on Elections is also planning to increase the number of voting precincts, 100,000 to 105,000 volunteers is the target for Namfrel,” said Eric Alvia, who serves as secretary general of the poll watchdog.
Alvia was referring to the Comelec’s goal to add more polling precincts for the May 9, 2022 vote, in order to reduce the number of voters assigned per precinct.
Like in previous polls, the volunteers would be tasked to monitor important procedures in the electoral process, such as the casting, counting, and canvassing of ballots.
Alvia acknowledged that the pandemic was casting a long shadow on their preparations.
For instance, unlike in past elections, Namfrel would prefer recruiting individuals who are less vulnerable against the coronavirus.
“We do not discriminate on anyone, but as much as possible, we prefer volunteers who are fully vaccinated, or who are young, or who are not senior citizens, because they will be deployed and fielded to voting centers, and they may be exposed [to the virus],” Alvia said.
Alvia added that if the poll body would deem it necessary, they would find a way to subject their volunteers to COVID-19 testing.
“We will follow whatever the Comelec and the IATF [coronavirus task force] require,” he said.
Over 61 million people are eligible to cast their ballots in the 2022 polls.
Elections in the Philippines are usually jampacked and crowded, and the poll body faces persistent calls to ensure that the May 9, 2022 vote would not be a super spreader event. – Rappler.com