Public hearing on mall voting set next week
Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) - November 20, 2015 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines - A public hearing on voting in malls will be held at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Intramuros, Manila next week.

It will be held on Nov. 27 at 10 a.m. at the ground floor of Palacio del Gobernador, the Comelec said yesterday in a Notice to the Public.

Chairman Andres Bautista said the public hearing is open to all political parties and the general public for the Comelec to get their opinion on voting in malls.

The Comelec has estimated that voting in malls would cover some two million voters.

Most of them are persons with disabilities and senior citizens who are supposed to vote in public schools near shopping malls.

A total of 159 privately owned malls nationwide have signified intention to host next year’s polls, Bautista said.

The public hearing comes following calls of Senate electoral reforms and people’s participation committee chairman Aquilino Pimentel III for the Comelec to abandon the idea of holding elections in shopping malls.

Pimentel believes that voting in malls has no legal basis, and that the Omnibus Election Code allows the holding of polls in private property only in “extreme situation and we are not yet there.”

However, two “applicable laws” allow voting in  malls, according to a memorandum issued by Comelec Law Department director Maria Norina Tangaro-Casingal.

These are Article IX-C Section 2(3) of the 1987 Constitution, which provides the Comelec the power to determine the number and location of polling places, and Batas Pambansa 881 or the Omnibus Election Code, which pertains to the designation of polling places by the poll body.

The memorandum shows that polling places may be changed subject to several conditions: the Comelec finds “it necessary to change the location of the current established polling place” and that “all registered political parties and candidates in the affected political unit have been notified of the plan to change the location of a polling place and a hearing thereon has been conducted.”

“No polling place shall be established within 45 days before a regular election and 30 days before a special election or a referendum or plebiscite, except in case it is destroyed or it cannot be used,” read the memorandum.

No designation of polling places shall be changed except “upon written petition of the majority of the voters of the precinct; agreement of all the political parties; or by resolution of the commission upon prior notice and hearing,” the memorandum added.

 

ACIRC AQUILINO PIMENTEL BATAS PAMBANSA C SECTION CHAIRMAN ANDRES BAUTISTA COMELEC COMELEC LAW DEPARTMENT MALLS MARIA NORINA TANGARO-CASINGAL OMNIBUS ELECTION CODE POLLING
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