False: Voters are required to bring negative RT-PCR test result, vax cards on May 9

May 4, 2022 - 1:48 PM
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A man wearing a face mask as protection against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) takes part in a simulation for the 2022 Philippine election, at a polling station in Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines, December 29, 2021. (Reuters/Lisa Maie David)

CLAIM: A supposed video report that claimed voters are required to wear face shields, bring their vaccination cards and negative RT-PCR test results recently circulated on social media.

This video, along with screenshots of it, surfaced online less than a week before the elections day on May 9.

The supposed report showed a “pandemic elections walkthrough” wherein it claimed that the Commission on Elections required voters to bring and wear the following items at their voting precincts:

  • Face masks
  • Face shields
  • Vaccination cards or a negative RT-PCR test result

The report further stated that voters will not be allowed to vote if they do not observe these guidelines.

RATING: The Facebook posts circulating are false and the video report with Comelec’s guidelines is outdated.

FACTS:

Comelec issued an advisory on social media that debunked these claims as false.

“Voters are NOT required to wear a face shield, or present a vaccination card or negative COVID-19 test result,” the poll body said.

It also advised the public against engaging in fake news online.

“Beware of fake news. Follow COMELEC to get accurate information,” Comelec said.

Comelec Commissioner George Garcia also made this statement in response to concerns from some voters.

“Walang katotohanan yan. Kayo pong lahat ay makakaboto kahit wala po kayong vaccination card. Kahit hindi po kayo nagpabakuna para sa COVID-19,” Garcia was quoted as saying in a Philstar.com report.

He also stressed that voters only have to wear face masks while voting.

“Ang kailangan lang po ay face mask, hindi po kailangan ang face shield,” Garcia said.

The poll commissioner also noted that while negative COVID-19 tests are not required, people who have tested positive for the virus or have symptoms of it should self-isolate.  They can vote at isolation polling places on election day.

Meanwhile, the information in the circulating video report are outdated. It came from an episode of TV5’s news program “Frontline Pilipinas Tonight” that was aired on Jan. 27, 2022.

During that time, Comelec issued a stricter policy on voting due to fears that the election activity will become a super-spreader event.

However, in an episode that was aired on Feb. 10, 2022, TV5 anchor Marie Ann Los Baños clarified that negative swab tests, vaccination cards and face shields are not required, citing Comelec’s updated policies.

“Pagtatama lang po sa aming report noon January 27. Bakunado man po o hindi, papayagan pa ring bumoto sa eleksyon sa Mayo,” Los Baños said.

According to Baguio Chronicle, the recorded stream of the video report from TV5 has already been deleted on both YouTube and News5 websites.

The official Comelec guidelines for voting can be accessed on its website. It was updated on Feb. 1, 2022.

Infographic that showed the steps in voting for the May elections via Comelec’s website

Why it matters

Copies of the old video report and screenshots of it confused some Filipinos online.

They were making rounds on Facebook and Twitter since last week.

One user even directly asked election lawyer Emil Marañon III to confirm this information via the replies on his old tweet.

“Hello Atty Emil…I saw on TV that aside from facemask face shield…on May 9…voter should bring vaccination card or if not vaccinated should bring latest RT PCR test…is this correct?” the user asked.

This story is part of the Philippine Fact-check Incubator, an Internews initiative to build the fact-checking capacity of news organizations in the Philippines and encourage participation in global fact-checking efforts.

Interaksyon is part of #FactsFirstPH, a multi-sectoral initiative promoting truth in public space and demanding accountability for falsehoods. For those interested to join the initiative, email 

Interaksyon is also a founding partner of Tsek.ph, a collaborative fact-checking project for the 2022 Philippine elections. It is an initiative of academe, civil society groups and media to counter disinformation and provide the public with verified information.