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RANGER STATION, TUBBATAHA REEFS – At around noon each day, eight strapping young men wait for Valerie to make her appearance. Her daily entrance, coming almost like clockwork, is what makes their day. “That’s Valerie, sir,” Navy PO2 Jonathan Lobo says proudly as a dark shadow swims underneath the posts that hold up this ranger station. Even at some distance, her large disk-like shape, with the four flippers where arms and legs should be, is unmistakable.

May Butoy and Helen Graido of the Legal Network for Truthful Elections (Lente) are in Palawan for the first elections to be held during the pandemic, taking crucial lessons for the 2022 Philippine general election. Covid-19 worries are expected to affect voter turnout, but lack of understanding among residents regarding the consequences of the plebiscite is a bigger concern.

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