Press Release
October 10, 2012


Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, PDP Laban President, today praised the decision of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to allow more than 200,000 members of the media to vote earlier in the May 2013 elections. The Comelec decision was in response to a petition filed media practitioners that they be accorded the same voting privilege that soldiers, policemen and other government employees enjoy under the rule of local absentee voting.

Senator Pimentel, who chairs the Senate Committee on Electoral Reforms and People's Participation, said that the Comelec decision will ensure "that members of media are able to exercise their rights of suffrage even if they are assigned to cover election or other activities on election day away from the place where they are registered as voters."

It was Pimentel who filed Senate Bill 1198 providing for absentee voting privilege for members of media organizations by amending the law on absentee voting-Republic Act 7166. During the hearing of the Select Oversight Committee on Suffrage headed by Pimentel many media practitioners complained that they were basically disenfranchised because they were on coverage far from where they were registered.

"I am glad that the Comelec on its own has corrected this injustice to media practitioners. It is an irony that the members of the fourth estate are not able to exercise their right in a democracy that they themselves strive to strengthen through their work," Pimentel said in a statement.

Pimentel added that he would still push for the passage of the bill he sponsored especially given the dissenting opinion by Comelec Commissioner Christian Robert Lim who argued that allowing early voting by media is outside the authority of the Comelec as RA7166 has specified only the members of the military and the police as beneficiaries of absentee voting.

"I think we should still amend RA7166 to cover media practitioners and to ensure that they can vote early not only on national positions but on all elective posts, should this be administratively possible" Pimentel explained. "So while I welcome the Comelec decision I think we can still expand the absentee voting privilege given to the media. And to erase all doubts as to Comelec's power to include the media in the local absentee voting system, we should pass my bill into law."

The petition filed before the Comelec only applies to early voting by media for national positions.

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