MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III has signed a new law requiring the Commission on Elections to set up precincts accessible to persons with disabilities (PWDs) and senior citizens.
He signed Republic Act No. 10366, otherwise known as “An Act Authorizing the Commission on Elections to Establish Precincts Assigned to Accessible Polling Places Exclusively for Persons with Disabilities and Senior Citizens,” on February 15.
The law will address the concerns of PWDs and senior citizens come Election Day.
Malacañang spokesperson Abigail Valte said RA 10366 mandated Comelec to help PWDs during elections by, among other things, setting up separate and accessible voting precincts for them.
Either a relative by consanguinity or affinity, within the fourth civil degree, or a member of the Board of Election Inspectors can also assist PWDs in casting votes, if need be, Valte said in a radio interview.
“This law will now require the registration or [recording] of persons with disabilities and senior citizens with Comelec, so that they will identify those disabilities needing assistance… when it comes to voting,” she said.
Besides the PWD-accessible voting centers, Comelec should come up with “assistive devices” and other forms of services to PWDs, she said.
“And our ballots should have reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities and senior citizens. Of course, this includes assistance in the accomplishment of the ballots because we can’t rule out situations that we have PWDs in need of assistance,” she said.
Because of this law, Comelec is required to have all its staff undergo training programs.
Covered by this training requirement are those who will perform electoral duties including field officers, members of BEI and accredited citizens arms “to familiarize themselves with the needs of PWDs and senior citizens,” Valte said.