Comelec launches polling places for elderly, PWDs-A A +A
Sunday, October 13, 2013
TO MAKE it convenient for senior citizens and persons with disability (PWDs) to vote in the October 28 barangay elections, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) launched the accessible polling places (APPs).
But when the polling body called to a briefing the 97 senior citizens and three PWDs from Barangay Mabolo it randomly selected, only four appeared and signed the consent form.
‘Defeating its purpose’
James Jimenez, Comelec Education and Information Department director, was in Cebu yesterday to handle the briefing at the Mabolo Elementary School.
Cebu City is one of four pilot areas for the APPs, which is the initial implementation of Republic Act 10366, or an Act Authorizing the Comelec to Establish Precincts Assigned to Accessible Polling Places Exclusively for PWDs and Senior Citizens.
If proven successful, APPs will be introduced nationwide in the 2016 elections.
Raymundo Biaras, 69, president of the Day Care Center for the Elderly, was not on the list.
He would have liked to be included but since the beneficiaries were randomly selected, he had to defer to those who were chosen.
However, Biaras talked to members of his group and one of their concerns was that SM City Cebu, where the APP will be set up, is not
The elementary school is closer to their houses than SM City Cebu, they said.
But Jimenez said the mall is more convenient. Regular polling precincts have longer lines and voters are subjected to natural elements on election day.
“Change is a little challenging sometimes. Would it entail a longer travel? Yes. Would it be beneficial? Yes,” he said.
The APP program hit a snag in the morning because only a handful arrived for the briefing, prompting the Comelec to hit the road in the afternoon.
Jimenez said voters’ consent is important.
He, together with Comelec 7 Director Temie Lambino and Comelec Cebu City North District Election Officer Marchel Sarno, went around Sitio Camansi to get the consent of the 100 individuals on the list.
The first house they visited belonged to Emmanuel Solon. He signed the consent form but he was not on the list. He also called on his mother, Maria Ferreras to sign another consent form.
“This is a test. There is no written resolution yet. We had the list so we would have the exact people who will vote but once on the ground, it was decided that we just let the senior citizens who want to vote at SM sign the consent form,” Lambino said.
Biaras, too, signed the consent form.
The consent form asks the beneficiary to check the box on the kind of assistance he or she would need.
Outside Solon’s house, more senior citizens were encouraged to vote at the APP.
Sarno explained to them that the Comelec will also provide vehicles to ferry them to the APP.
Even though it no longer followed the list, Comelec will still need 97 seniors and three PWDs to vote at the APP.
The other APPs are the SM Manila, SM Lipa and SM General Santos City.
Since SM is Comelec’s partner, the barangay closest to an SM mall was chosen, which explained why Mabolo was picked as the pilot area in Cebu City.
Jimenez said Mabolo also has one of the biggest voting populations.
Yesterday was also the second day of the filing of certificates of candidacy (COCs) but it was a slow day.
As of noon, there were only 25 COCs filed at the south district and 13 filed at the north district.
In the afternoon, a white Toyota Hilux with red plates (SKY 398) was seen outside the Comelec office ferrying what looked like supporters of a candidate because of the uniformed T-shirts they were wearing.
Lambino warned: “Not a single centavo from the government’s coffers should be used when filing the COC.”
Using government vehicle would mean using government-allotted gasoline, he said. Besides, a government vehicle should only be used during office hours for official reasons.
Lambino, though, refused to speculate on what the government vehicle was doing at the Comelec office on a Saturday.
“Let’s see. For all we know the person was only getting his Comelec ID,” he said.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 13, 2013.