Voting starts early in first PH election amid Covid pandemic

Photo by Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo
Photo by Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo

VOTERS lined up early as polling centers opened for the 2022 national and local elections Monday, May 9, 2022.

As early as 4:30 a.m., several voters from across the National Capital Region (NCR) waited at the gates of the schools, which serve as voting centers, to avoid long queues, as 65.7 million registered voters are expected to cast their votes.

Polling precincts started accommodating voters at 6 a.m. Voting will end at 7 p.m.

Temperature scanners were posted in the entrance of each polling center and it has so far been one of the main causes of long lines outside the area.

Among the presidential candidates who voted early was Senator Panfilo Lacson, who cast his vote around 7 a.m. at the Bayan Luma 1 Elementary School in Imus, Cavite.

Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Saidamen Pangarungan, who checked the early conduct of polls at Andres Bonifacio Elementary School in Pasay City, said the beginning of the day so far went smoothly.

Policemen and soldiers were also on their posts for the maintenance of peace and order, as well as health protocols as the country conducts the first election during a pandemic.

Over 200,000 police, military and coast guard personnel were deployed for security operations.

At least two policemen were manning the police assistance desk outside polling centers for the immediate response to any eventualities.

In a press conference, Philippine National Police (PNP) officer-in-charge Lieutenant General Vicente Danao warned against last-minute campaigning, including the distribution of campaign materials and sample ballots outside the polling centers.

He reminded the candidates and their supporters that campaigning has ended since midnight of May 8, thus continuing with such activities is already an electoral violation.

“Bawal na po ‘yung campaigning ano as of yesterday midnight so definitely, kapag may nakita sa (area of responsibility) nila sa kanya-kanyang paaralan... definitely, they will be cautioned o tell them to stop but if they insist in doing so, they will be apprehended for campaigning, bawal po yan. So sa ngayon, yan ang instruction natin sa kapulisan sa buong kapuluan,” said Danao.

“We’ve been reminding them (policemen) since day one not to be apolitical and they should not be bias to any running candidate. As a matter of fact ‘yung iba dyan ay na caution na natin at patuloy nating pinagsasabihan... kung meron po tayong nakikitang kapulisan who is tolerating and worst there is kung meron tayong pulis na nakikita na sila pa mismo ang nagdadala please don't hesitate to report it to our hotline number o kaya ‘yung hotline number ng mga respected regions,” he added.

Danao said cops have also been alerted against vote-buying activities and other reports in the communities.

The Comelec earlier said that all individuals, including those manifesting or have tested positive for coronavirus will be allowed to cast their votes.

Covid-19 vaccination is also not a requirement for voters.

The Comelec, however, urged the public to strictly adhere to minimum health protocols to prevent the spread of coronavirus on Election Day. (SunStar Philippines)

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