The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday released guidelines for the conduct of the plebiscite that will divide Palawan into three provinces to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

According to Comelec Resolution No. 10687, only a maximum of five voters are allowed inside a voting center and must wear face masks and face shields.

“The voters, who are properly wearing their face mask and shield, have sanitized both of their hands with alcohol at the installed sanitary in stations in the polling place, shall have the right to freely enter the polling place as soon as they arrive unless there are already five voters inside, in which case they shall wait outside the polling place, form a line in the order of their arrival, observe the one meter physical distancing, and wait for their turn to enter,” the Resolution read.

“In all cases, there shall be a maximum of five voters inside the polling place, voting simultaneously,” it added.

It said the number of voters voting simultaneously may be reduced by the Plebiscite Committee (PlebComm) if the required physical distancing cannot be observed or when the number of people inside the polling place exceeds its 50 percent of its capacity.

“The voters after having cast their votes shall immediately leave,” it added.

Likewise, the Comelec will be establishing an Isolation Polling Place (IPP) where voters who register a temperature of 37.5 degrees Celsius or higher will cast their votes.

“Voters who upon temperature check at the entrance of the voting center, who registers a temperature of 37.5 degrees Celsius or higher and who were not subsequently cleared by the Medical Personnel, and those who answered “Yes” to any of the questions contained in the Covid-19 Health Declaration Form, shall cast their votes in the IPP,” it said.

The IPP has an ample space capable of accommodating, at least five voters, the PlebComm, and watchers, who should observe one-meter physical distancing at any time, it said.

The Comelec also released Resolution No. 10682 providing the calendar of activities for the plebiscite which aims to divide the province into Palawan del Norte, Palawan Oriental, and Palawan del Sur.

The posting of the computerized voter’s list will be on February 11 while the inspection of polling places will also begin February 11 until February 18.

The one-month information and campaign period is set to start on February 11 and will run until March 11, the holding of online, virtual, televised, or radio-aired information campaigns (“pulong-pulongs”, symposia, fora or debates).

The plebiscite period will be from February 11 up to March 20.

On plebiscite day on March 13, the casting of votes will be from 7:00 am to 3:00 pm. while the counting of votes will start at 3:00 pm onwards until finished.

The voter will be asked to write “Yes” or “Oo” if they favor the split and “No” or “Hindi” if they are not in favor on the question, “Pumapayag ka ba na hatiin ang probinsya ng Palawan sa tatlong probinsya na papangalanang: Palawan del Norte, Palawan Oriental at Palawan del Sur alinsunod sa Batas Republika Bilang 11259. (PNA)

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