MANILA — The House of Representatives on Tuesday approved on third and final reading several bills related to the conduct of elections.
About 8 months before the 2022 national and local elections, the House of Representatives voted 215-0-0 to approve House Bill 9785, known as "Act Strengthening the Commission on Elections."
The bill will be sent to the Senate for approval.
According to its congressional fact sheet, the bill seeks to ensure and preserve the integrity and independence of Comelec by empowering its field offices, among other measures.
It mandates the Commission to provide separate and independent office spaces for its field offices, the cost of which shall be charged to its yearly appropriations.
EARLY VOTING FOR PWD, SENIOR
With 196 affirmative votes, the House of Representatives also approved on final reading House Bill 9562 that would allow early voting of qualified senior citizens and persons with disabilities (PWDs) in the national and local elections.
According to its congressional fact sheet, the bill seeks to enhance the access of qualified senior citizens and persons with disabilities PWDs to the right of suffrage.
It mandates that there shall be early voting where qualified senior citizens and PWDs may choose to cast their ballot at accessible establishments designated by the Comelec within 7 working days before the date set for the election.
Senior Citizens Rep. Rodolfo Ordanes lauded the approval of the bill and hopes it can be implemented in the 2022 elections.
“I know time is in short supply in the legislative calendar and the Comelec timetable, and the pandemic is an added constraint, but I pray HB 9562 becomes law soon enough, so the Comelec can make it happen for the May 2022 elections," Ordanes said.
FINES FOR NUISANCE CANDIDATES
Voting 191-0-0, the House of Representatives also approved on final reading House Bill 9557, which would set efficient procedure for declaring a nuisance candidate and imposing stiffer penalties on them.
It mandates the Comelec, upon notice and hearing, and upon proof of malice or bad faith, to impose the penalty of a minimum of P100,000 on the person who filed such a certificate of candidacy to put the election process in mockery or disrepute.
The same will apply on those who file a candidacy to cause confusion among the voters by the similarity of the names of the registered candidates or by other circumstances or acts which clearly demonstrate that the person has no bona fide intention to run for the office.
Filing of certificate of candidacies for those running in the 2022 national and local elections will on October 1 to 8.