Thursday, March 30, 2023

Senator Jinggoy Wants Special Polling Places For PWDs, Senior Citizens Institutionalized


Senator Jinggoy Wants Special Polling Places For PWDs, Senior Citizens Institutionalized

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Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada has filed a bill mandating the establishment of precincts exclusively for senior citizens and accessible for persons with disabilities (PWDs).

Although a law already exists ensuring such to PWDs and senior citizens, Estrada said there is 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.

Estrada has 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.”

He 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.

Notwithstanding the existence of the said law, 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, adding 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.


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