The Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms of the House of Representatives held a hearing to discuss eight house bills concerning early and local absentee voting procedures for persons with disabilities, older people and people with work during election days.
Handicap International (HI) participated in the said hearing to provide inputs for the improvement of the house bills. Edward Ello, inclusion advisor, represented HI and explained further the communication and environmental barriers that prevent persons with disabilities in participating elections. He also gave our recommendations to improve the house bills.
Edward advised the committee to revise the bills and make them in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), a list of rights guaranteed to persons with disabilities, specifically with Article 29 or the Participation in Political and Public Life.
He pointed out the need to push for inclusive elections in the Philippines. The processes should be properly communicated to persons with disabilities and that there is no need for a different election day for persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups if polling areas are accessible.
Infrastructures should be modified and materials that will be used should be appropriate for all people, with or without impairments. Likewise, Edward mentioned that the authorities must ensure that votes of persons with disabilities should be of high confidentiality.
With these inputs and insights from other stakeholders present, the committee urged the Commission on Elections to improve the current measures to make elections inclusive of persons with disabilities and other vulnerable sectors. Furthermore, the committee will form a technical working group composed of different organizations and stakeholders to improve the concerned house bills.