Lawyer seeks early voting for reporters
MANILA, Philippines—Journalists’ votes count too.
Election lawyer Romulo Macalintal made this point as he announced that he would ask the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to allow members of the media to cast their votes early in next year’s midterm polls.
Macalintal said the petition for early or absentee voting shall benefit not only the petitioners but all media practitioners who, on election day, may not be able to cast their ballots because they would be assigned to places where they are not registered to vote.
Macalintal invited mediamen to the formal signing of the petition at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the weekly news forum of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines at Ilustrado Restaurant in Intramuros, Manila.
Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento earlier urged mediamen to file a petition seeking the poll body’s approval of a measure that would allow them to vote on a specific date, time and place. Macalintal volunteered to draft and file the petition, which has been signed by at least six mediamen.
“The petition is anchored on the constitutional right of every qualified citizen to exercise his right of suffrage without discrimination. If government officials performing election duties are allowed early voting, then media practitioners who also perform election duties and are actual partners of the Comelec in disseminating news and information on election events and results should likewise be extended the same privilege,” Macalintal said.
Macalintal said the Comelec has the power to adopt appropriate rules or proceedings to ensure a clean and honest election and the enfranchisement of qualified voters.
The lawyer, however, said mediamen who avail themselves of the option to vote early would be able to cast ballots only for president, vice president, senators and party-list representatives and not for local officials.
In the petition, “media practitioners” refer to those certified by media entities as being connected or employed by them and who, on or a few days before election day, would be assigned to various areas to gather news, make reports or shoot video, thereby preventing them from voting in their respective precincts on election day.
These include field reporters, cameramen, photographers, television crew members, production staff, technicians and other personnel assigned to media coverage on or before election day.