(THE MANILA TIMES) SEN. Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada wants to amend Republic Act (RA) 10366 to allow senior citizens and persons with disabilities (PWDs) access to “safe” polling precincts.
RA 10366 mandates the Commission on Elections to establish polling precincts exclusively for PWDs and senior citizens.
Estrada said that although the law ensures special poll centers to PWDs and the elderly, he said there is a need for “clearer language” in RA 10366 to ensure safety and provide more comfort to PWDs and senior citizens during election day.
He said the law must provide the necessary infrastructure, additional features, and special venues of precincts to address their mobility, convenience and general accessibility concerns.
These poll precincts for the elderly and PWDs must be “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.”
The senator wants the special polling precincts put up not just in public schools but also in 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.
Estrada on Monday pointed out that many senior citizens continue to be disenfranchised from casting their ballots.
In the 2019 elections, the senator noted that only 3 percent or 200,000 of the eight million senior citizen-registered voters cast their ballots.
“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 in a statement.
“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 RA 10366 is to ensure that those in the vulnerable sector will be able to exercise their right to political exercise “without discrimination or restrictions.”