Amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, misinformation that voters need to present a vaccination card or a negative RT-PCR test to be able to vote on May 9 has been making the rounds on social media.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said this is false, and clarified that voters are not obliged to get the jab or to present their proof of vaccination on election day. A negative RT-PCR test is also not mandatory.
In a Jan. 27 newscast by media organization News5, reporter Marie Ann Los Baños gave viewers a walkthrough on what they need to prepare for the “pandemic elections.” Citing the Comelec as her source, she said voters are required to wear a face mask and face shield.
She then said:
“Pagdating po sa inyong voting precinct, kailangan niyo pong i-present ang inyong vaccination card. Sabi ng Comelec, required daw po na vaccinated kayo bago kayo makaboto.
Pero para naman sa mga hindi bakunado na gusto pa ring ma-exercise ang karapatan nilang bumoto, kailangan niyo pong dalhin ang pinakahuli ninyong RT-PCR test result at kailangang nag-negative po kayo.”
(When you get to your voting precinct, you need to present your vaccination card. The Comelec said it is required to be vaccinated before you can vote.
But for those who are unvaccinated and still want to exercise their right to vote, you need to bring your latest RT-PCR test result and be tested negative.)
Source: News5 Facebook Page, FRONTLINE TONIGHT, Jan. 27, 2022, watch from 19:35 – 19:58
The inaccurate report was also posted on the official TikTok account of News5 on Jan. 28.
Based on social media monitoring tool CrowdTangle, the clip has been shared by a netizen on several Facebook (FB) groups including the NETIZENS FOR CONSCIENCE AND BRAVERY with 44,400 members, Gising Na Pinoy with 28,700 members, and NCR LOCKDOWN, Sentro ng Komunikasyon ng Metro Manilans with 15,600 members.
In response to the false information, one FB user wrote in the comments section, “Katakotakot (sic) na abala sa botante tiyak baka kakaunti ang mga makakaboto mabuti pa postpone n[a]lang m[u]na ang election… kapag bumalik na sa normal saka ituloy ang election.”
(This is a horrifying inconvenience for voters; surely only a few will be able to vote[.] It might be better to just postpone the elections… Once things get back to normal, that’s when we push through with the election.)
In a Feb. 8 media forum, Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez refuted the report and said: “This is false. We are not requiring vaccinations. We are not requiring proof of vaccination. We’re not even requiring RT-PCR tests for voters.”
As early as October last year, Jimenez answered a netizen who asked him on Twitter if the government could institute a “no vaccine, no vote” policy. He said, “No. Walang kinalaman ang vaccination status sa karapatang bumoto (The vaccination status has nothing to do with the right to vote).”
The Comelec has also issued a step-by-step guide on how to vote on May 9.
Voters are, indeed, required to wear face masks and face shields, according to Jimenez in a Jan. 26 online forum.
Upon entering the voting precinct, voters will undergo a health screening including a temperature and symptoms check.
Then-commissioner Antonio Kho Jr. explained in a Laging Handa Public Briefing on May 28, 2021 that when a voter has a temperature above 37 degrees Celsius, they will be asked to rest and then will be screened again.
“Kung talagang mataas ang kaniyang temperature, lalampas ng 37.5, hindi ho siya [papupuntahin] doon sa kaniyang presinto (If their temperature is really high, exceeding 37.5 [degrees Celsius], we will not bring them to their precinct),” said Kho.
“Mayroon ho kaming special precinct, ang tinatawag ho nating isolated polling place. Doon ho siya boboto … para lang hindi makahalo siya sa ibang tao, but we will also give him or give her the right to vote,” he added.
(We have a special precinct, we call it an isolated polling place. That’s where they will vote … so that they will not interact with other people, but we will also give him or her the right to vote.)
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Commission on Elections, MediaCon 2022, Feb. 8, 2022
CNN Philippines, Comelec: Vaccination card, negative COVID test not required for voting, Sept. 11, 2021
Interaksyon, No vaccine, no vote? Comelec spox says COVID-19 vax status not required on poll day, Oct. 7, 2021
Philippine News Agency, Unvaccinated voters allowed in 2022 polls: Comelec exec, Dec. 4, 2021
Inquirer.net, ‘No vaccine, no vote’ unconstitutional, says Comelec, Dec. 4, 2021
Panay News, ‘VAXXED OR NOT, YOU CAN VOTE;’ Comelec: COVID jab not a requisite to cast ballot, Jan. 19, 2022
Twitter account of James Jimenez, No. Walang kinalaman ang vaccination status sa karapatang bumoto, Oct. 7, 2021
Commission on Elections, MAKE your one vote count. Here’s a step by step guide to cast your vote securely and safely. #VoteSAFE #StaySAFE Pilipinas!, Jan. 31, 2022
Kapihan sa Manila Bay Forum with Marichu Villanueva, Kapihan sa Manila Bay with James Jimenez Head Education and Information Dept. of Comelec, Jan. 26, 2022
People’s Television Network, Alamin ang mga paghahanda ng COMELEC para malaking pagbabago na inaasahang mangyayari sa darating…, May 28, 2021
(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)