By Cielito M. Reganit
MANILA, July 14 (PNA) — The chair of the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms on Tuesday urged the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to consider tapping private schools as additional polling precincts rather than putting up polling booths in malls.
Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro said that although the law does not explicitly prohibit the setting up of polling booths in shopping centers, he said the solemnity of the election process could be disturbed by the magnitude of mall-goers.
“There is also the problem of control as poll officers could not anymore distinguish the throngs of poll operators among the multitude and who could now operate at will,” the veteran lawmaker said.
“The better alternative would be for Comelec to tap private schools that are present in the local areas whereby the same controls can be applied as in the public schools that are used as polling precincts,” Castro said.
At present, public elementary schools and high schools are designated by law as polling precincts.
“However, there are no prohibitions in the law to designate additional precincts in other places,” Castro said.
Earlier, Comelec announced that it would be putting up polling booths in selected shopping malls for the 2016 presidential elections to help reduce the number of voters per precinct and decongest public schools.
Comelec chairman Andres Bautista said that convenience and airconditioning could also raise voter turnout and reduce election related stress.
The poll body hopes to finalize the number of precints that will be transferred to malls by November 7.
Currently, Comelec has designated areas in several malls where voters can have their biometric data taken during weekends.
In the meantime, Castro said that his committee is still in talks with the Comelec regarding the problem of congestion in polling places.
He said that they are contemplating of putting up additional precincts so that the ideal rate of 300 to 500 voters per precinct could be reached.
“We still have time to deliberate on our respective proposals. However, I firmly believe that using private schools as polling precincts is the better alternative than using malls for the same purpose,” Castro said. (PNA)