MANILA, Philippines — Voters will get to see more persons with disabilities (PWDs) in polling precincts on election day.
For the first time, the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) is tapping PWDs as poll watchers as a way of encouraging others with disabilities to participate in the electoral process.
PPCRV chairperson Henrietta de Villa noted that many PWDs were disenfranchised during elections because they were hesitant to go out and vote.
“That’s why we are giving them space to be poll watchers so they would realize that they can contribute to ‘champ’ elections,” said De Villa, referring to the poll watchdog’s bid for “clean, honest, accurate, meaningful and peaceful elections.”
“Another reason they don’t vote is because of the difficulty in going to the polling places. But this won’t be a problem anymore, especially with the Commission on Elections’ move to have accessible polling places,” said De Villa.
The Comelec issued Resolution No. 9845 in 2012 establishing accessible polling places and providing guidelines for assisting PWDs during the balloting.
The resolution states that polling precincts for PWDs shall be located on the ground floor of voting centers. They should be spacious enough to accommodate more than 10 PWD voters at a time and should consider their mobility requirements, particularly those in wheelchairs.
De Villa also said the PPCRV would deploy around 350,000 volunteers on May 13 although the group had yet to ascertain how many PWD volunteers would be assigned to polling centers.
She said the PWD volunteers would be assigned to polling precincts with big numbers of PWD voters. In previous elections, at least 800,000 PWDs had registered to vote.
“Although we want to have a PWD poll watcher at every voter assistance desk, if we cannot get many volunteers, at least we will have them in the 60 voting centers with large concentrations of PWD voters,” she said.