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8 malls qualify as vote centers for 2016 polls

Mayen Jaymalin - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Eight malls whose owners have no political affiliation have qualified to be voting centers in the May 2016 elections.

Commission on Elections Chairman Andres Bautista said the Comelec initiated a background check on the eight malls that have expressed intention to serve as voting centers and the poll body confirmed that owners of these malls have no political affiliation and did not support any candidate in the past two elections.

These are Ayala Malls, Fisher Mall, Gaisano Grand Malls, Megaworld Lifestyle Malls, Pacific Malls/Metro Gaisano, Robinsons Malls, SM Supermalls and WalterMart Community Malls.

“We checked the Statement of Contributions and Expenditures (SOCEs) in 2010 and 2013 elections and we did not find any names like Henry Sy or Ayala. We didn’t find any of their names,” Bautista said.

The Comelec is not tapping malls associated with politicians like Gateway Mall owned by the family of Liberal Party (LP) standard-bearer Mar Roxas and StarMalls owned by the family of Sen. Cynthia Villar of the Nacionalista Party (NP).

“We did not involve them because it is provided for by the Omnibus Election Code that the mall owner should not be a candidate,” Bautista said.

The Omnibus Election Code provides that in case there is no public school or other public building that can be used as polling place, an appropriate private building may be designated.

The law, however, also mandates that the private building must not be “owned or occupied or possessed by any incumbent elective public official or candidate, or his relative within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity.”

The Comelec favored the holding of mall-based voting in the May 2016 polls by transferring polling centers to adjacent malls.

But members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) are prohibited from participating in the planned mall-based voting. Even mall security guards are barred from going near the polling center to be established inside the malls, according to Bautista.

“It will be the Comelec that will have direct control and supervision over that space,” Bautista added.

The Omnibus Election Code only allows the Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) to call the police, military or any peace officer to provide protection to them or the election documents and paraphernalia.

 

ACIRC ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES AYALA MALLS BAUTISTA BOARD OF ELECTION INSPECTORS COMELEC COMMUNITY MALLS CYNTHIA VILLAR OF THE NACIONALISTA PARTY ELECTIONS CHAIRMAN ANDRES BAUTISTA MALLS OMNIBUS ELECTION CODE
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