Pimentel seeks amendment of absentee voting system to include media menBy Matikas Santos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines – The Senate is looking into the possibility of providing media practitioners with the opportunity to vote in advance on election day or outside of their registered precinct in consideration of their work duty come balloting day.
National Press Club president Benny Antiporda said during a hearing Monday of the Select Oversight Committee on Suffrage headed by Senator Aquilino Pimentel III that many media practitioners were not able to vote because they were on a coverage far from where they were registered.
“Sometimes media practitioners are registered in Manila but are assigned somewhere else to cover the elections,” Antiporda said.
He suggested that media practitioners should be allowed to vote in advance of election day or be allowed to vote outside of where they are registered.
Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Sixto Brillantes said in the hearing that they have a “domestic absentee” voting process already in place that covers soldiers, Comelec personnel who are performing their duties, teachers, and others not able to vote on election day.
For all voters outside of where they were registered, Brillantes said that they were only allowed to vote for national candidates.
When asked by Brillantes if that would be acceptable to media practitioners, Antiporda said, “That would be like a consolation prize.”
Pimentel said that many people from various sectors of society were indeed unable to vote on election day. Many Filipino seafarers were unable to vote because they were away, he said.
He suggested the “domestic absentee” system of the Comelec be amended to also cover media practitioners and Filipino seafarers so they may be given a chance to vote despite their work schedules.
A house bill entitled “An act providing for early voting to qualified members of the media” has already been transmitted to the Senate in October 18, 2011.
Media practitioners may vote “within fourteen (14) working days before the day of elections,” and “He/She shall be allowed to vote for as many positions available as any other qualified voter,” the bill said.