Elderly lauds special voting in malls-A A +A
Monday, October 28, 2013
SENIOR citizens who voted in SM City Manila on Monday’s barangay elections only had the nicest words after casting their ballot in the air-conditioned facility.
“Maganda kaysa dati. Dito walang problema, maganda ang serbisyo. Tulad ko matanda na, hirap na makaakyat kaya nung nabalitaan ko na may ganito, natuwa ako,” said 75-year-old Guillermo Roldan, who finished voting in less than five minutes.
Genaro Guzman, meanwhile, said it was his most convenient voting experience as he called on the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to expand the program to other malls nationwide.
Roldan and Guzman were just among the 236 individuals who availed of the privilege as part of the pilot implementation of Republic Act 10366 or the law establishing precincts exclusively for persons with disability (PWD) and senior citizens.
Four villages were selected for the pilot test, namely, Barangay 659 in the fifth district of Manila (37 voters); Barangay Sabang, Lipa City in Batangas (44); Barangay Mabolo, Cebu City (77); and Barangay Lagao, General Santos City (68).
Their voting areas were in SM City Manila instead of Manuel Araullo High School; SM City Lipa instead of GB Lontok Elementary School; SM City Cebu instead of Mabolo Elementary School; and SM City General Santos instead of Lagao Central School.
The venues were provided for free by SM.
The special precincts opened at 7 a.m. but closed two hours earlier than the 3 p.m. cut off.
“We had to close early because the ballots will still be brought to their original precincts for the counting of votes,” said Erma Tesil, member of the special board of election tellers in Manila.
Ligaya Patañag, 81, was the oldest and the first to vote in SM Manila. She arrived at 7:14 a.m. while 71-year-old Gloria Candilla was the lone voter who did not show up.
“This is a continuing act on the part of the Comelec. We give priority to PWDs and elderly as part of our reforms. They are part of the society and they have the right to vote,” Comelec Commissioner Elias Yusoph told reporters, adding the program is a prelude to the 2016 elections, where every voting center is required to have accessible precincts.
Comelec Chairperson Sixto Brillantes, also a senior citizen, spent almost two hours observing the pilot test in SM Manila before returning to his office for a meeting with other commissioners.
Meanwhile, voters with disabilities had a disadvantage in casting their votes after some election precincts were placed on upper floors.
Some voters with disabilities also complained that in Pasig City, a school had its precinct at the third floor. (with reports from JK/Sunnex)