MANILA – With only two weeks to go before the national and local elections on May 9, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has decided to scrap its plan to allow voting in malls.
Voting 4-3, the commission en banc junked the mall voting project after three commissioners reconsidered their earlier decisions on the project.
“Last night, the Comelec en banc has decided not to proceed with mall voting for the 2016 elections. This decision overturns the March 10 resolution,” he said in a press briefing on Wednesday.
Commissioners Christian Lim, Luie Guia, and Arthur Lim have supported the dissenting opinion of Commissioner Rowena Guanzon, who is not in favor of the implementation of the project.
Those who approved of the endeavor are Bautista and Commissioners Al Parreño and Sheriff Abas.
“We approved it on March 10. Their (new) interpretation is that that the approval and transfer should happen 45 days before the elections,” he said.
The Omnibus Election Code (OEC) does not allow the transfer of polling precincts within 45 days before a regular election.
At the same time, the poll chief has apologized to the voters numbering to 231,174 since they already started sending out Voter Information Sheets (VIS) to those who are going to vote in malls.
“We apologize to our voters, who were already informed of their transfer to malls. We are now in the process of informing them of their new voting areas. Basically, we will just return them to their old polling precincts,” he said.
Bautista has already signed separate Memoranda of Agreement (MOA) with Robinsons Malls and Ayala Malls with eight others are scheduled soon.
“We also apologize to our mall partners because we know they have already spent for this project because they are also excited with this partnership as part of their corporate social responsibility,” he added.
Bautista admitted that he was saddened, when asked regarding the scrapping of his pet project.
“How do I feel? I feel like our efforts were wasted,” he added.
Under the said endeavor, total of 231,174 regular voters in 337 clustered precincts from 101 barangays will be allowed to vote 80 malls nationwide for the May 9 national and local polls.
The participating private establishments are: SM malls, Robinsons, Fishermall, among others.