Romualdez welcomes Comelec move to guarantee PWDs’ role in 2016 polls
• December 14, 2014
• Written by Ryan Ponce Pacpaco
• Published in Top Stories
HOUSE independent minority bloc leader and Leyte (1st District) Rep. Martin G. Romualdez yesterday welcomed the reconvening by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) of an inter-agency committee and a network of non-government organizations (NGOs) to guarantee the participation of persons with disability (PWDs) in the 2016 presidential polls.
Dasmariñas City Rep. Elpidio “Pidi” Barzaga Jr. and Quezon City Rep. Winston “Winnie” Castelo also lauded the Comelec action. “We welcome the convening of the inter-agency committee as the state’s obligation to guarantee equality and the full participation of PWDs in the next polls,” said Romualdez, a lawyer and president of the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa).
With an overwhelming 201 votes, the House of Representatives approved last December 1 on its third and final reading House Bill (HB) No. 1039, principally authored by Romualdez, seeking to exempt PWDs from paying the value-added tax (VAT) on certain goods and services to ensure their benefits nationwide.
Barzaga, former chairman of the House committee on suffrage and electoral reforms during the previous 15th Congress, said Comelec should consider all the sentiments of PWDs during consultations. “Usually, PWDs complain about their lack of access to polling precincts. This should be addressed by the Comelec,” said Barzaga, a lawyer and chairman of the House committee on games and amusement.
Castelo agreed with Romualdez and Barzaga, saying that PWDs should have more special polling places in the May 2016 presidential elections. “Empowering PWDs by guaranteeing that their rights to suffrage are always respected and upheld should always be prioritized and strengthened by the government,” said Castelo.
Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said, “The committee will conduct more satellite voter registrations and other special programs and events catering to PWDs.”
According to records in the May 2013 polls, there were 191,672 million PWDs registered voters and 142,601 voted out of the actual number.