Members of the media assigned to cover the May elections can now exercise their right to vote, thanks to the Absentee Voting Act that President Benigno Aquino III signed on Thursday.
Republic Act No. 10380, otherwise known as “An Act Providing for Local Absentee Voting for Media,” allows media practitioners and their support crew and staff to vote ahead of the general electorate in the May 13 elections, according to deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte.
In a media briefing, Valte said the Commission on Elections (Comelec) will set the date for early voting among members of the Fourth Estate.
She added however that media practitioners “can vote (candidates but only) for the positions of president, vice president, senators, and party-list representatives.”
Under RA 10380, the media cannot vote for candidates in local elective positions, including district representatives, and (vote in) other local races, Valte said.
Covered by the law are “media practitioners, including the technical and support staff, who are duly registered voters and who, on election day, may not be able to vote due to the performance of their functions in covering and reporting on the elections.”
The Comelec has 30 days from the signing of the law to promulgate the implementing rules and regulations governing absentee voting for media, including “the system of accreditation and verification of members of the media, or media practitioners,” said Valte.
To avail themselves of the absentee voting privilege, members of the media must be accredited with the Comelec upon the recommendation of their media companies, she added.
“The requirements should serve as a timely reminder that not all individuals who claim they are media practitioners will automatically enjoy the right to vote under this bill,” said Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, chair of the Committee on Electoral Reforms and sponsor of the bill.