THE Commission on Elections is confident on the legality of their mall-based voting initiative planned for the May 2016 polls amid persistent questions on whether the law allows such a practice.
In a press briefing for the demonstration of the mall voting process at the Eastwood Mall in Libis, Quezon City, Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista said there are no legal hurdles for the commission to implement mall-based voting.
“Our law department has come out already with a legal opinion on mall voting. We are not just trying to implement a statutory directive. We are actually trying to enforce a constitutional provision,” Bautista said.
The Comelec earlier formed a technical working group to assess the legal and operational issues surrounding the mall voting initiative for the May 2016 polls and Bautista noted how Article IX of the 1987 Constitution allows the poll body to determine the location of polling places.
“Very confident,” Bautisa said when asked if they can withstand any possible legal questions on mall voting.
Earlier, there have been questions as to whether the Comelec can tap malls to hold the elections citing provisions of the Omnibus Election Code, which provides that appropriate private buildings may be designated as polling places “in case there is no public school or other public building that can be used as polling places.”
Aside from having the mandate to determine polling places, Bautista said they are trying to continuously improve the accessibility of polling precincts for persons with disabilities and senior citizens.
He said this is in accordance with provisions of Republic Act No. 10366, which authorizes the Comelec to establish accessible polling places for PWDs and senior citizens.
Currently, Bautista said they are already evaluating which polling precincts have the most number of PWDs and senior citizens in order to ensure that they can vote in malls.
Meanwhile, Megaworld First Vice President Kevin Tan assured the Comelec that the company is in full support of the mall voting project of the Comelec.
“With our world-class malls and facilities, we are more than ready to provide utmost convenience and ensure the safety of voters looking to exercise their right to vote,” Tan said.
Aside from Eastwood Mall, Megaworld Corp. also Lucky Chinatown Mall in Manila as well as their “townships” at McKinley Hill and Uptown Bonifacio in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.
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