MANILA — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said the measure allowing senior citizens and persons with disabilities (PWDs) to vote in advance would reduce the number of voters on Election Day.
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez welcomed House of Representatives Bill 5661, which was approved on third and final reading on Thursday, describing it as a “positive step forward towards increasing the inclusiveness of Philippine elections”.
Comelec chairman Juan Andres Bautista, who was present during the deliberation in Congress, said they still need to study how they will “properly implement” the measure.
Bautista also clarified that senior citizens and PWDs will be allowed to vote for all positions, unlike those who applied for absentee voting, who are only allowed to vote for national positions.
“Early voting for senior citizens and PWDs is not like absentee voting. Senior citizens and PWDs can vote for all positions, not just national,” he said in a radio interview.
According to Comelec, a total of 7.4 million senior citizens and more than 300,000 PWDs have registered as voters as of August 2016.
Under the measure, a nationwide registration will be held for senior citizens and PWDs who would like to avail of early voting. It states that those who are not registered for early voting may vote on Election Day itself.
The bill’s principal authors are House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, and Representatives Romero Quimbo (2nd District, Marikina); Angelina Tan (4th District, Quezon); Estrellita Suansing (1st District, Nueva Ecija); and Maximo Rodriguez Jr. (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro City).