More than 90 million official ballots to be used in the forthcoming Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) have been printed, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) announced on Monday.
Meanwhile, SEN. Jinggoy Estrada seeks to institutionalize special polling precincts accessible for persons with disabilities (PWDs) and senior citizens.
Comelec spokesman John Rex Laudiangco said the National Printing Office (NPO) in Quezon City has printed 90,613,426 ballots for the BSKE polls.
“The ballots numbering over 90 million have been 100 percent printed. Those in the initial voters’ list have a ready been fully printed,” Laudiangco said during the Laging Handa briefing. He said a total of 66,973,949 barangay ballots and 23,639,477 SK ballots that would be used in the Oct. 30 polls have been prepared.
“We will just need to print those for new voters numbering about 1.6 million. These are those that applied from December 12 to January 31,” he added.
According to him, the poll body currently finalizes the number of successful voter applicants.
Under the Voter’s Registration Act, all applications for voter registration should be heard, processed, and approved by the Election Registration Boards (ERBs).
Laudiangco also reported that other poll supplies and paraphernalia have been delivered and are ready for deployment.
He said they will just need to conduct training for those that will serve as members of the Electoral Boards (EBs).
“We can really say that your Comelec is 100 percent ready (for the BSKE),” added the Comelec spokesperson.
Republic Act 11935, which was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., moved the Dec. 5, 2022 village and youth polls to the last Monday of October this year.
Estrada wants the special polling precincts put up in public schools, town halls or plazas, civic centers, community centers, or other similarly designated special venues or areas and preferably those designed with special features to ensure their safety and comfort.
The senator proposed to specifically state in Section 2 (j) of RA 10366 otherwise known as “An Act Authorizing the Comelec to Establish Precincts Assigned to Accessible Polling Places Exclusively for PWDs and Senior Citizens” that the special polling places should be readily accessible to public transportation, free of any physical barriers and provided with necessary infrastructure and services such as “ramps, railings, sidewalks, adequate lighting, ventilation and other features for PWDs and senior citizens.”
Estrada has filed a bill mandating the establishment of precincts exclusively for senior citizens and PWDs.
Estrada noted a need for “clearer language” in RA 10366 regarding the necessary infrastructure, additional features, and special venues of precincts to address their mobility, convenience, and general accessibility concerns.
Notwithstanding the existence of a law on the matter, Estrada pointed out that many senior citizens continue to be disenfranchised from casting their ballots.
In the 2019 elections, Estrada said only three percent or 200,000 of the eight million senior citizen-registered voters actually voted.
“The unfortunate low turnout for the sector underscores the importance and the urgency to strengthen the law ensuring accessibility of our polling places,” he said.
“Ultimately, this legislation aims to protect every voter’s constitutional right to suffrage and to promote a more inclusive participation in the important democratic exercise,” Estrada said.
He added that the intent of the law is to ensure that those in the vulnerable sector will be able to exercise their right to political participation without discrimination or restrictions.