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Right to vote of Phl prisoners proposed
In House Bill 3817, Rep. Rene Relampagos of Bohol Province said 69,143 of 72,476 prisoners throughout the country have been deprived of their right to vote during elections.
These prisoners, Relampagos said, are awaiting preliminary investigation, trial or promulgation of final judgment, and many of those sentenced continue to be on appeal.
The measure seeks the establishment of mechanisms for qualified voters detained in jails to exercise their right of suffrage, amending Section 155 of the Omnibus Election Code.
The proposed "Persons Deprived of Liberty (PDL) Voting Act of 2014" would ensure that Universal Suffrage, enshrined in the Constitution, is promoted and safeguarded.
Universal suffrage, the lawmaker explained, requires the participation of the broadest pool of voters ensuring that every eligible voter must be included.
Reasonable requirements are usually limited to minimum age, nationality and mental capacity.
"Unlike in England, Canada, Australia, Hongkong and other leading democracies in the world, PDLs in the Philippines, not otherwise disqualified by law, are effectively curtailed from exercising their right to vote with the absence of a law," Relampagos stressed.
He pointed out that the year 2010 marked two milestones in the country's election history: first, the use of the automated election system nationwide; and second, the first en masse registration and voting of PDLs.
Relampagos also noted that PDL voting was made possible by the concerted efforts of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), other government agencies as well as civil society involved in prison care.
Comelec Resolution No. 8810 on March 30, 2010 allowed PDLs to vote for the first time. The second time was in the 2013 mid-term polls.