MANILA - With a year to go before the May 2022 general elections, the House Committee on Appropriations on Wednesday approved the funding provision of a consolidated substitute bill proposing early voting for qualified senior citizens and persons with disabilities in national and local elections.
The approval of the substitute bill came during the panel’s hearing earlier in the day. It consolidated House Bills Nos. 286, 519, 1488, 1489, 1490, 2839, and 4565.
Under the consolidated measure, there shall be early voting where qualified senior citizens and persons with disabilities (PWD) may choose to cast their ballot at accessible establishments designated by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) within 7 working days before the date set for the elections.
The bill also sought a nationwide registration for senior citizens and PWDs to help them qualify for an early voting privilege.
Comelec will be tasked to keep a record of registered senior citizens and PWDs, according to the bill.
The commission will also design a registration scheme with the help of local government units, the National Council on Disability Affairs, the Commission on Human Rights, the Department of Health, and Department of the Interior and Local Government.
It shall also establish a registration system in coordination with local government units, the National Council on Disability Affairs, the Commission on Human Rights, the Department of Health and the Department of Interior and Local Government.
The registration system should allow senior citizens and PWDs to register and opt for early voting to facilitate their voting in national and local elections.
The polling station for the senior citizens and PWDs should adhere the guidelines and protocols under Republic Act No. 10366 or the law that directs Comelec to establish precincts exclusively for the said members of the community, so that voting places will be safe and highly accessible to them "fitted with the necessary communication, visual and physical aids."
The original proposals were authored by Reps. Estrellita Suansing, Michael Edgar Aglipay, Angelina Tan, Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez, and Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez.
The bill will be submitted to the House of Representatives for approval on the 2nd and 3rd reading.
- RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News