Comelec’s Garcia to push for early voting of seniors, PWDs, pregnant women
MANILA, Philippines — Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairperson George Garcia announced on Thursday that he would push for early voting for the elderly, people with disabilities, and pregnant women in the upcoming elections as part of the ongoing set of reforms he wants to deliver to make voting more accessible for all Filipinos.
“Sa aking palagay, ito na ang tamang panahon na payagan na natin mas makaboto nang mas maaga ‘yung mga nakatatanda sa atin at saka ‘yung may mga kapansanan, kahit nga ‘yung mga buntis. Upang hindi sila makasama sa pagboto ng karamihan” he said.
(I think this is the right time for us to allow seniors and PWDs, as well as pregnant women, to vote earlier so they will not be included in the general voting.)
Garcia explained that this measure might spare seniors from waiting in long lines and getting tired, while PWDs may avoid difficulties in voting.
“Kung napapaboto nga natin ‘yung tinatawag na local absentee voting o iyong atin pong kahit mga miyembro ng media napapaboto po natin, eh bakit naman hindi natin kayang pabotohin iyong mga nakatatanda para hindi na sila aakyat ng hagdan o kahit na hindi na po sila pipila ng pagkahaba-haba, mapapagod; iyong mga may kapansanan, mga naka-wheelchair ay nahihirapan?” he said.
(If we allow local absentee voting, even to media members, why can’t we let the elderly vote early so that they will not get tired, and PWDs in wheelchairs will no longer face difficulties?)
“So mas maganda po paagahin na natin iyong pagboto po nila,” he added.
(So it is better to allow them to vote early.)
The Comelec chair also said that he would push for the option of internet voting for Filipinos abroad, noting that only around 39% of Filipinos overseas voted in the last elections.
“Mas maganda siguro magbigay tayo ng ibang alternatibo. Kung papayagan natin ang internet voting para sa kanila lalo’t naka-setup iyong mismong mekanismo para protektahan ang kanilang mga boto ay palagay ko, mas tataas ang bilang ng mga botante lalo na overseas na makakaboto,” Garcia said.
(It is better to give them an alternative. If we allow internet voting for them, especially if there is a mechanism to protect their votes, I think we would have a higher voter turnout among Filipinos abroad.)
When asked how Comelec can assure that internet voting will not be tampered with, Garcia said the poll body must be empowered since it can only follow Congress and the Executive.
“Kinakailangan na kami ay i-empower; bigyan ng kapangyarihan ng ating Kongreso. Ang detalye, kami ang maglalapat pero siyempre po kinakailangan muna namin alamin kung ano ang parameters, ano ang boundaries, ano ‘yung mga security measures,” he said.
(Of course, we should be empowered; Congress must give Comelec powers. We will establish the details, but we need to know the parameters, boundaries, and security measures.)
“More or less pu-push natin ‘yan. Subalit ang may final say po sa lahat ng mga detalye na ganyan ay ang ating Kongreso,” he said.
(We will push for it, more or less. But Congress has the final say on that.)