By Ritchie A. Horario Reporter
ONLY two out of the 36,778 polling centers in the country were designated as pilot Accessible Polling Places for the elderly and persons with disabilities (PWDs).
This was revealed by National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA) executive director Carmen Zubiaga.
She said the number only shows the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) failure to address the needs of senior citizens and PWDs in the recently held midterm polls.
Reacting to NCDA’ claim, Vice President Jejomar Binay on Thursday expressed dismay saying that the poll body should make sure that they are not disenfranchised.
“The Comelec should have been more proactive in ensuring that they are not disenfranchised simply because our polling centers cannot accommodate their needs,” Binay said.
The Vice President said he personally saw how some senior citizens had to walk up three to four flights of stairs to reach their precincts.
He also cited media reports of senior citizens suffering accidents on election day.
“This is clearly something that requires an explanation from the Comelec, considering that the poll body itself had issued resolutions that require polling centers to be friendlier to senior citizens and PWDs,” he added.
According to the Vice President, the Comelec should now use the time leading to the next elections in 2016 to make the voting process for the disabled and the elderly easier and more efficient.
Binay also said that the growing number of PWDs interested in practicing their right to vote should not be neglected. From 300,000 registered voters in 2010, the PWD sector grew to 362,113 this year.
The Vice President also praised Filipinos who volunteered to help the elderly and PWDs vote on May 13.
“Their willingness to help the elderly and PWDs shows that the spirit of bayanihan is still very much alive in our country,” he said.