Media absentee voting bill still being pushed-A A +A
Thursday, October 11, 2012
MANILA -- Expanding the absentee voting privilege to media by allowing them to select both local and national officials is the subject of a bill sponsored recently in the plenary by Senator Aquilino Pimentel III.
This developed despite a resolution released by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) allowing over 200,000 members of the media to vote earlier in the May 2013 midterm polls.
Until Tuesday’s decision, only soldiers, policemen and other government employees enjoy such privilege under the law on absentee voting or Republic Act 7166.
Pimentel said he would still push for the passage of Senate Bill 1198 given the dissenting opinion by Comelec Commissioner Christian Robert Lim who argued that early voting by media is outside the authority of the poll body under the law.
"So while I welcome the Comelec decision I think we can still expand the absentee voting privilege given to the media. And to erase all doubts as to Comelec's power to include the media in the local absentee voting system, we should pass my bill into law,” he said.
The Comelec resolution only allowed media to vote for candidates gunning for national positions such as senator.
Authored by Senator Manny Villar, the bill is the counterpart of House Bill 4241, which was sent to the Senate in August last year.
The House version grants a qualified member of the media to cast his/her vote within 14 working days preceding an election while the Senate counted 29 amendments to the original bill.
Covered by the bill are media practitioners including technical and support staff, citing as example the camera crew members of a television outfit who will enjoy the same absentee voting rights given their anchor person or host.
The bill is expected to be tackled before senators go on a two-week Halloween break beginning October 20. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)