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Comelec asks for additional funds for proposed seniors, PWDs early voting

Kaycee Valmonte - Philstar.com
Comelec asks for additional funds for proposed seniors, PWDs early voting
This photo shows the Commission on Elections office in Intramuros, Manila.
Philstar.com / AJ Bolando, file

MANILA, Philippines — While it supports plans to allow early voting for members of vulnerable sectors and certain professions, the Commission on Elections said it would need additional funds to implement the proposal. 

The House of Representatives on Monday approved on third and final reading House Bill 7576 or the Early Voting Bill for Senior Citizens, Persons with Disabilities, Human Resources for Health and Lawyers. This means all individuals who qualify under any of the categories may vote ahead of the official voting day for both national and local elections. 

Comelec spokesman John Rex Laudiangco pointed out that it only has enough for the projects, programs and activities it listed and were approved under the General Appropriations Act. He said the poll body does not have enough finances to cover for its initial implementation as the bill proposes that the cost “shall be charged against the available appropriations.”

“We are hoping we could get enough funds so we can implement this bill properly should it become law,” Laudiangco said in a statement in Filipino on Tuesday.

The proposed law, which is a consolidation of 15 proposals, got 259 affirmative votes at the lower chamber. It gives the poll body responsibility of keeping a record of senior citizens, PWDs, lawyers and health workers who have registered to vote. 

This means Comelec will be required to “design a registration system” to account for all individuals that qualify for early voting. The poll body pointed out that “registration” should be referred to as the “manifestation of intent to avail of Early Voting” as the former refers to registering as a voter under current laws. 

Laudiangco said Comelec would need additional funds to put up different voting centers to accommodate the identified sectors. 

The poll body would also need to fund the cost of training of more teachers who will serve as members of the Electoral Boards, on top of the needed financing for their honoraria. — with a report from Cristina Chi

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