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Congress ratifies bill benefiting PWDs, senior citizens during elections

Christina Mendez - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The Senate and the House of Representatives have ratified the measure that will provide special services, including polling places, for persons with disabilities (PWDs) and senior citizens during elections.

Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, chairman of the Senate committee on electoral reforms, reported out the results of the bicameral conference meeting on

Senate Bill 3287 and House bill 5509 during the last session day last Dec. 21.

“This will provide access to PWDs and senior citizen to electoral processes. The conferees agreed to use the Senate version as a working draft,” Pimentel said.

Senators Francis Pangilinan, Franklin Drilon, Jinggoy Estrada, Lito Lapid, Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Manny Villar co-sponsored the measure.

“In effect, we are giving PWDs and senior citizens a more convenient time for voting. For each voting center, the Comelec shall establish an accessible polling place for PWDs and senior citizens,” the senator said.

The measure recognizes the political rights of PWDs and senior citizens by ensuring that voting procedures, facilities and materials are appropriate, accessible and easy to understand and use.

It also aims to protect the right of the PWDs and senior citizens to vote by secret ballot in elections without intimidation, facilitation of the use of assistive and new technologies where appropriate; and guaranteeing the free expression in the exercise of suffrage.

The measure mandates the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to assist them in coordination with government agencies and civil society organizations.

The agency shall designate accessible polling places where the PWDs and senior citizens may be able to cast their votes on election day, and be provided with the necessary forms of assistance. The polling places shall be located at the ground floor of each voting center, preferably near the entrance of the building.

For the implementation of the measure, the Comelec and the National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA), the Commission on Human Rights and PWD and senior citizen organizations shall organize, design and implement sensitivity trainings on persons performing electoral duties.

AQUILINO PIMENTEL COMELEC COMELEC AND THE NATIONAL COUNCIL DISABILITY AFFAIRS HUMAN RIGHTS JINGGOY ESTRADA LITO LAPID MIRIAM DEFENSOR-SANTIAGO AND MANNY VILLAR PWDS SENATE AND THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES SENIOR
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