The Inbox

Senior citizens prefer mall to regular precinct—even if they had to climb

Senior citizens exiting the mall. Voters in SM Manila, supposedly an accessible polling place, had to climb the …

By Dexter Cabalza, VERA Files

Ligaya Patañaga, 81, and her neighbor,Luzviminda Dularte, 75, showed up at the SM City Manila before 7 a.m., eager to vote at one of only four venues in the country designated by the Commission on Elections as accessible polling places (APP).

But at that hour, the mall was letting in early birds like Patañaga and Dularte only through its San Marcelino gate.

There was no lift at that gate. So Patañaga, 81, had to be helped by her neighbor and several police and mall security guards negotiate the 10-step stairs to reach the upper ground floor where the special polling place is located.

That hardly mattered. Patañaga said she still preferred climbing the stairs at the mall than those at her regular precinct at the Araullo Elementary School.

Noong May elections, kailangan pa naming umakyat sa third floor.Tapos mahirap doon kasi maraming tao, sama-sama kami (In last May elections, we needed to climb up to the third floor of the school. It was more difficult there since the school was overcrowded. They lumped all the voters there),” she said.

Dularte added, “Sanay na kaming umakyat-baba dito kasi dito kami nagsisimba tuwing Linggo (We’re used to climbing the stairs here since we attend Sunday masses here).”

Voting in the APP is more convenient since it is quieter and closer to their residence, the younger of the two senior citizens said.

Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr, who visited the APP at SM City Manila later in the day, couldn’t agree more. “Dito may accommodations, maganda, malamig, may nakabantay na mga wheelchair (The APP here has made accommodations for PWDs. It’s cool and comfortable, and wheelchairs are on standby),” he said.

The APPs at SM City Manila and three other SM malls—Cebu, Lipa and General Santos—were established to pilot-test how the poll accessibility law, or Republic Act 10366, can be fully implemented in the 2016 elections.

The law requires persons with disabilities (PWDs) and senior citizens to consent to being transferred from their regular precincts to the APPs.

In Monday’s polls, more senior citizens benefited from the move to the mall. A total of 229 voters with disabilities agreed to vote in APPs, but in the end, Comelec’s choice of the four malls meant only four PWDs voting at SM Cebu, three at SM General Santos, three at SM Lipa and none at SM Manila.

Even when SM Manila opened all its gates during regular mall hours at 10 a.m., there were still some problems senior citizens voting there had to hurdle.

The wheelchair lift at the entrance near Natividad Lopez Street was out of order, and mall security guards suggested that voters who had need for assistance better use the car park entrance.

Narciso Arabe, election officer of the 5th district of Manila, said the San Marcelino entrance, despite the stairs senior citizens had to climb, was the most convenient to voters because since it is the closest to the residential area.

He also said that after the deadline to give their consent to be transferred to the APP expired, a number of PWDs and senior citizens were still asking asked Comelec to move them to the new voting center.

Kaya lang hindi lang naihabol. Hindi kasi sila nakita noong nag-house-to-house (We weren’t able to include them. Comelec personnel didn’t come across them when they went house-to-house to gather their consent),” he said.

At the SM City Manila, 36 out of the 37 senior citizens in the voters’ list cast their votes before the polls closed at 1 p.m., an unusually high voter turnout of 97 percent.Their ballots were transferred to the Araullo Elementary where they would be canvassed along with the ballots from regular precincts later in the day.

If the pilot-testing in the four malls is successful, Brillante said the Comelec will tap other malls in the 2016 elections.

“We can use all other malls all over the country,” he said.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • First China air force drills in 'far offshore' Pacific
    First China air force drills in 'far offshore' Pacific

    China's air force has carried out its first ever military drill over the western Pacific Ocean, state media said, highlighting Beijing's growing military reach. Several aircraft from China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) on Monday flew over the ocean via the Bashi Channel, which runs between Taiwan and the Philippines, the official Xinhua news agency said. "This is the first time that the PLA Air Force conducted such drills in an airspace far offshore from Chinese coastlines," Xinhua cited …

  • Shorter hours for rail lines tomorrow
    Shorter hours for rail lines tomorrow

    The Metro Rail Transit (MRT), Light Rail Transit (LRT) and the Philippine National Railways (PNR) will have shorter hours tomorrow for the replacement of defective railroad tracks during the Holy Week. …

  • Noy increases allowances for cops, soldiers
    Noy increases allowances for cops, soldiers

    President Aquino has signed a joint congressional resolution raising the daily subsistence allowance for both members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP). Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Aquino signed last March 27 the merged Joint Resolution 2 of the Senate and Joint Resolution 26 of the House of Representatives. Speaking to reporters, Lacierda yesterday said the daily allowances of police officers and soldiers were raised from P90 …

  • Oil firms raise gas prices today
    Oil firms raise gas prices today

    This year’s Holy Week break will be accompanied by an increase in local pump prices after oil companies announced yesterday a P1.10 per liter hike for gasoline and P0.60 per liter for diesel effective today. “Phoenix Petroleum Philippines will increase the prices of gasoline by P1.10 per liter and diesel by P0.60 per liter effective 6 a.m. of March 31, 2015 to reflect the movements in the prices of refined petroleum products in the international market,” said Phoenix Petroleum, an independent …

  • DFA denies dropping Phl claim to Sabah
    DFA denies dropping Phl claim to Sabah

    The Philippines has never offered to drop its Sabah claim in exchange for Malaysia’s support for Manila’s arbitration case against China over the West Philippine Sea issue, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said yesterday. “In the context of our friendly bilateral relations, our two countries have been for years exchanging ways on how to address the issue of the extended continental shelf (ECS) in the South China Sea,” Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said in explaining the DFA’s …

  • Pagcor remits record high P5 B to national treasury
    Pagcor remits record high P5 B to national treasury

    The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) has remitted P5 billion in cash dividends to the National Treasury, fully settling all its arrears incurred in the last several years. Pagcor chairman and chief executive officer Cristino Naguiat Jr. said with this year’s remittance, the state-owned gaming firm has fully settled all remaining arrears in cash dividends that were incurred by the previous administration since 2005. Pagcor’s cash dividends to the National Treasury under its …

  • Maysak moves closer to Phl
    Maysak moves closer to Phl

    The typhoon with international name Maysak slightly accelerated as it moved closer to the Philippines yesterday, threatening to dump rains over eastern Luzon this weekend, the state weather bureau said. Rene Paciente, senior weather forecaster of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), said Maysak was spotted at 2,175 kilometers east of Mindanao as of 1 p.m. yesterday. Paciente said based on their latest forecast, Maysak is likely to affect …

  • Phl gets P2-B climate projects from Germany
    Phl gets P2-B climate projects from Germany

    The Philippines is getting 41 million euros or around P2 billion from the International Climate Initiative (ICI) of Germany that will fund 10 bilateral projects to address the impact of climate change. Climate Change Commission (CCC) vice chairman Lucille Sering yesterday met with Norbert Gorissen – head of the International Climate Finance of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety – to discuss the projects, some of which will be …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options