With the country’s national election just 10 months away, the Philippines has a lot to learn from Israel in ensuring that the people could participate in the democratic process and exercise their right to suffrage without the fear of spreading COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) along the way.
Chalm Markos Rafalowski, Disaster Management Coordinator of Magen David Adom, Israel’s national emergency, medical, disaster, ambulance and blood bank services, said the most important factor to ensure is to “set up a whole system”.
Under the COVID-19 situation, Rafalowski said Israel has successfully conducted at least two elections, one in March 2020 and the latest was only three months ago “without any increase in new cases”.
“We have plenty of experience both on putting the guidelines for political rallies, these kinds of activities but more important is how to set up a whole system. And during our last election day, we had the whole system to allow people to exercise their democratic right to vote and at the same time being able to maintain all the restrictions,” Rafalowski said during the virtual presser Friday.
Rafalowski, along with Eyad Jeries, Trauma Coordinator at the Galilee Medical Center and Dr. Guy Choshen, Infectious Disease and COVID-19 Specialist at the Tel-Aviv Sourasky Medical Center are currently in the Philippines on a six-day visit to help the country’s battle against the pandemic and share their expertise and best practices in dealing with the coronavirus situation.
During the election in Israel, Rafalowski said the government was able to set up voting polls inside COVID-19 wards of the hospital as well as a system for people to vote if they are under home quarantine.
“I am very proud to say that we did not see any increase in new cases due to the election day, and at the same time we as a country enabled all our citizens to participate in the democratic process,” He said.
The Israeli emergency expert said they are more than happy to share their experiences and the tools they used to conduct a safe election under the Covid situation through coordination with the Embassy of Israel in Manila.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, for his part, said the DOH and the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) will meet with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) en banc soon in compliance with the directive of President Duterte.
“We have to meet with them and help them come up with the health and safety protocols in the conduct of the campaign, and in the election proper itself,” he said.
The DOH chief said they are readying with the experts on how best candidates can continue to conduct campaign activities and the electoral processes compliant to the usual minimum public health standards.