by FFE PH News staff
Age and disability may not have stopped these voters from joining yesterday’s polls. But long flights of stairs did. Thankfully, teachers and polling staff came to the rescue.
At the President Corazon Aquino Elementary School in Batasan Hills, Quezon City, teachers maintained peace and order while assisting persons with disability (PWD) who want to exercise their right to vote. School principal Elvira Dumlao said ‘We tasked our able-bodied males to help our senior citizens in getting to their polling precincts. So when they spot elderly voters, our men are ready to help them.’
Seniors and PWDs had to be escorted to their respective precincts. Some had to climb 4 flights of stairs to reach their poll stations. While precincts with priority lanes for the elderly and PWDs were available, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) failed to give full lists of seniors and PWDs in some precincts.
In other voting centres, poll officials and staff had to improvise to make voting easier for the elderly and PWDs. School principal and election supervisor Florito Gereña lamented that ‘Our election tellers and inspectors only find out the voter is a PWD as soon as he or she turns up at the precinct.
‘We were promised a room for PWDs would be set up at the ground floor, but now we do not even have a list. We were left with neither, because the Comelec has to approve the designation of a polling precinct for PWDs.’
45-year-old amputee Zofronio Villota had to climb a narrow flight of stairs in crutches to reach his polling station. But despite the inconvenience, he said ‘As long as I can vote, it’s no trouble at all.’
The Comelec has designated a number of malls as polling precincts specifically for PWDs and senior voters. Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr said the pilot project was launched in preparation for the 2016 presidential elections.
‘If this will turn successful, we are going to use this all throughout 2016 and adopt the same procedure.’
As for seniors and PWDs who could only access their local precincts, the chairman said ‘I hope that this will not happen again in 2016 because we are going to assign special polling centers for them.’