By Hannah Torregoza
Reelectionist Senator Maria Lourdes Nancy Binay on Friday called on the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to ensure that persons with disabilities and senior citizens would be able to vote on May 13 without any hassle.
“Be sensitive to the needs of vulnerable voters. Let’s make it easier for them to vote,” Binay said in a statement.
Binay made the appeal to election officers as some (PWDs) expressed doubt that they would be provided special precincts on Monday.
This, despite Comelec’s assurance that PWDs and senior citizens can go to Emergency Accessible Polling Places (EAPP) in order to vote.
However, PWD groups pointed out that many polling places still do not have reasonable access to vulnerable voters especially for those with mobility issues.
“Ang lagi nating pinapakiusap ay bigyan ng special polling precinct ang ating PWDs, senior citizens, at ang mga nanay na buntis, (We always ask that we give PWDs, senior citizens and even pregnant mothers a special polling precinct),” Binay pointed out.
“Kung maaari, meron na agad information kiosk sa pagpasok pa lang sa polling places, at volunteers na mag-a-assist sa kanila (as much as possible there should be an information kiosk once they enter polling places and volunteers who will assist them),” she said.
“ Papunta pa lang sa mga eskwelahan pahirapan na, kaya ‘wag na po nating pahirapan sila sa araw ng eleksyon, (Just going to school is already difficult. So let’s make it easy for them during election day),” Binay said.
Republic Act 10366 mandates the Comelec to set up separate and accessible voting precincts for PWDs and senior citizens. But the law requires those with disabilities to register with the Comelec.
“I hope election officers will comply with Comelec Resolution No. 10486 which clearly says emergency accessible polling precincts be setup at the ground floor at merong mga malinaw at nakikitang directional signs,” the senator said.
“At sana yung di nakapag-rehistro ng mga senior, buntis at PWD ay i-accommodate din. Karapatan nilang bomoto, and let’s be sensitive to their needs,” she pointed out.
She said senior citizens and PWDs were usually given a run around, and often faced a number of restrictions, hurdles, and challenges on election day, particularly those whose precincts were located in the upper floors of buildings without ramps.
“Sinasabi din sa batas na hindi lang basta may special precinct, dapat ay trained ang mga election staff at volunteers para magbigay ayuda sa ating mga PWDs at seniors, at meron nakahandang assistive devices para sa kanila,(under the law, special precincts are not the only ones required, the election staff and volunteers should also be trained to provide support for our PWDs, seniors and they should also be prepared with assistive devices),” Binay added. #MatalinongBoto2019