Comelec eyes manual voting for detainee voters

Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Commission on Elections is considering conducting manual voting for over 64,000 detainee voters for the May 9 polls. This is after the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order that prohibits detainee voters from voting at the local level.

During the past elections, detainee voters vote using ballots issued from their polling precinct where they are registered. These ballots are afterwards brought to the precinct to be counted along with the ballots of regular voters.

"Since they can only vote for national positions now, we cannot use that kind of procedure. Nag-iisip kami ng paraan na maiba ito including possibly manual counting na lang nung mga boto nila at centralized counting dito sa Comelec," Comelec Commissioner Luie Guia told members of the media on Monday.

Guia said draft rules have already been prepared and will be presented to members of the Comelec en banc for approval on Tuesday.

"Ang framework namin ngayon operational, what is going to be feasible in the next two weeks. Ine-explore po namin yung possibility that perhaps we can count them in an automated manner but ayaw na naman istorbohin kung ano yung nakaplano kasi it is barely two weeks before the elections," he said.

There are 64,238 detainees without final conviction who are registered voters in 8,530 established precincts all over the country on May 9.

For this, 248 detention facilities were qualified by the Comelec to hold onsite voting for detainee voters, located in 223 cities and municipalities.

Guia said the poll body is also set to file a motion for reconsideration to the Supreme Court.

"To me, they are voters. Nasa lokalidad ang mga jail facilities and of course we want local governments to take notice of the conditions of our detention prisoners within their jurisdiction. Mas napapansin ang mga botante natin lalo na ang mga nakakulong na botante kapag meron silang boses sa paghalal ng mga local leaders at national leaders," Guia said.