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Pasig inmates register to vote in 2010

Posted on: August 21, 2009

Pasig inmates register to vote in 2010

Comelec working on rules for detainee voting
By Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 15:13:00 08/21/2009

Filed Under: Elections, Prison

MANILA, Philippines—The Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) held an on-site voters registration for Pasig City Jail detainees on Friday.

Pasig City Jail warden Supt. Hilbert Flor said about half of the 887 detainees, of which 785 males and 102 females, who have not yet been convicted of crime can register as voters for the 2010 elections.

Flor said this is the first time in the history of Philippine corrections that detainees are allowed to register on-site.

However, only detainees who were residents of the second district in Pasig City can avail of the special on-site registration because the law has a “residency requirement” that a person can only vote if he is a resident of a district for six months prior to Election Day.

Detainees whose prior residence are outside District II, for example in District I, should secure a court order and would be escorted by BJMP personnel to register at their district election office.

“Based on existing election laws, there are two factors that cannot be compromised: the identity and residency of the voter. Upon registration, voters should submit valid IDs or be attested by a family member for his identity, and must to be a resident of the district to vote,” said Frances Carolyn Aguindadao, Pasig District II election officer

In a separate interview, Commissioner Rene Sarmiento, chairman of the working committee for detainee voting, said the current scope of implementation of the minute resolution is limited to “what is doable and feasible for the TWG to implement for the 2010 elections” and are crafted “according to existing election and constitutional laws.”

Sarmiento cited as example a provision that ballot boxes cannot be moved out of the polling precincts; given this, registered detainees can only vote via escorted voting, wherein a court order will be served to allow groups of detainees accompanied by BJMP to vote in regular polling precincts on Election Day and return to their facility after.

Resolving this issue would come after the 2010 detainee voting is implemented, said Sarmiento.

International Foundation for Electoral Reforms deputy chief of party Juhani Grossman said although the scope of Comelec’s detainee registration and voting is still limited due to legal and administrative factors, it shows maturity of the country’s electoral and legal system.

He added worldwide, detainees are allowed to vote because the state recognizes that they are still innocent and thus, retains rights of suffrage and votes on jails via “mobile balloting.”

“In other countries, there are mechanisms that allow detainees to vote inside detention facilities through the use of mobile ballot boxes. Maybe the Comelec can consider this or other mechanisms from their counterparts abroad,” said Grossman.

Comelec aims to register all 50,000 inmates who are eligible to vote in the 2010 elections before the registration ends on October 31.

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