Press Release
October 19, 2012

Making The Electoral Process Easier for
Persons With Disability and Senior Citizens

(Sponsorship Speech of Sen. Aquilino "Koko" L. Pimentel III, 17 October 2012)

Mr. President, as Chairman of the Committee on Electoral Reforms and People's Participation, this representation humbly submits before this august Chamber for consideration Senate Bill No. 3287 under Committee Report No. 410, titled "An Act Ensuring The Accessibility Of The Electoral Process for Persons With Disability and Senior Citizens".


If there are two disadvantaged sectors in our society which continue to demonstrate their willingness to continuously build a great Filipino nation, these are the sectors of persons with disability (PWD) and the senior citizens (SC).

In 1992, the "Magna Carta for Disabled Persons" (RA 7277) was enacted providing for the rehabilitation, self-development and self-reliance of persons with disability and their integration in the mainstream of society.

In the same year, Republic Act No. 7432 was also enacted to maximize the contribution of senior citizens to nation building and grant benefits and special privileges to them.

Unfortunately, despite the noble intents of the laws cited and their relevant amendments, and the lapse of twenty (20) years, how the PWDs and the Senior Citizens may fully exercise their political rights has not been refined to suit their specific needs.

How can these sectors register as voters when the registration centers are not easily accessible to them? How can they eventually vote when their precincts are located on the upper floors of the polling centers without elevators or electric-run stairs to make things easier for them?


This proposed legislation seeks not only to provide special polling places for PWDs and SCs during election day but also to set up special registration centers and days for them during the registration period, among other things.

It is the intention of this bill to enable the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to establish a system that will make it easier for the PWDs and SCs to eventually register and vote by themselves.

This is a substitute bill which consolidated Senate Bill No. (SBN) 617 by Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, SBN 935 by Sen. Lito Lapid, SBN 1843 by Sen. Mirriam Defensor-Santiago, SBN 2820 by Sen. Manny Villar, and SBN 2999 also by Sen. Mirriam Defensor-Santiago.


All these bills intend to empower all citizens of the country not otherwise disqualified by law to exercise the right of suffrage as mandated by Section 1, Article V of the 1987 Constitution.

At the same time, the Constitution ordains that Congress shall design a procedure for the disabled and the elderly to enable them to exercise their right to vote (Section 2 (paragraph 2), Article V).

It was precisely in line with this objective that the "Magna Carta for Persons with Disability" (Republic Act No.7277) Section 29 provides that "polling places should be made accessible to disabled persons during national and local elections."


A provision is also found in the "Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010" RA 9994, that expresses the concern of the State to make life a little more livable by the Senior Citizens. Although the Section 4, (k) of the law does not pertain to elections, let me mention it just the same to show that our society is really concerned with the plight of our senior citizens who have given their share towards the building up of this Republic.

The provision refers to the establishment of express lanes for senior citizens in all commercial and government establishments; (and) in the absence thereof, priority shall be given to them;".


In any event, under this bill, it shall be the duty of the COMELEC, to render appropriate assistance to PWDs and Senior Citizens to enable them to participate meaningfully and with ease in the electoral processes.

The COMELEC shall likewise keep an updated record of PWDs and Senior Citizens registered voters, indicating the types of disability and the assistance they need.


During the period for registration of voters it is already required by R.A. 8189 that the COMELEC, in coordination with national government agencies and local government units, PWD and Senior Citizen organizations, and other cause-oriented groups, shall conduct satellite and/or special registration for PWDs and Senior Citizens in places accessible to them.


The COMELEC is thus mandated to designate accessible polling places where PWDs and Senior Citizens may be able to cast their votes on election day and be provided with the necessary forms of assistance. The polling place shall be located at the ground floor of each voting center preferably near the entrance of the building.

Pursuant to the foregoing, the COMELEC may: (l) maintain the existing precinct assignment of the PWD and Senior Citizen voters; or (2) establish a separate precinct for PWDs and Senior Citizens; or (3) combine them with other voters in an existing precincts on the ground floor of appropriate buildings and depending on their number in the locality, and upon consultation with PWD and Senior Citizen sectors.

At all times, the COMELEC shall ensure that the right of the PWDs and the Senior Citizens to the secrecy of their votes is protected.


In designing the ballot, Comelec, shall ensure reasonable accommodation to PWDs and Senior Citizens to enable them to accomplish the ballots by themselves. COMELEC may likewise design ballots for PWDs and Senior Citizens or prepare ballot guides in Braille, to assist the concerned PWDs and Senior Citizens to fill up their ballots by themselves.


A PWD or Senior Citizen who is illiterate or physically unable to prepare the ballot by himself or herself may be assisted in the preparation of his or her ballot by a relative by affinity or consanguinity within the fourth civil degree, or if he or she has none, by any person of his or her confidence who belongs to the same household, or by any member of the board of election inspectors (BEI).


COMELEC, in coordination with the National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA), shall ensure that a pool of expert services is made available to assist PWDs and Senior Citizens during the registration period and election day.


COMELEC, in coordination with the NCDA, the Commission on Human Rights, and PWD and Senior Citizens organizations shall organize, design, and implement sensitivity training programs for persons performing electoral duties to familiarize them with the needs of the PWDs and Senior Citizens.

Mr. President, the 2013 National and Local Elections are just six (6) months away. Considering the vital contributions of PWDs and Senior Citizens to nation building and the need for us, lawmakers, to give more meaning to the exercise of their political rights without discrimination or restriction, I request the expeditious approval of this measure.

Salamat po.

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