By Leslie Ann Aquino and Chito Chavez
There will be 10 more Accessible Voting Centers (AVC) in South Cotabato and one Special Polling Place (SPP) for Indigenous Peoples (IPs) in Aurora in the May 13, 2019 midterm elections, according to the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
“In recognition of the distinct issues that affect the voting exercise of Indigenous Peoples (IP) voters, the commission finally institutionalized the creation of Separate Polling Places (SPP) and Accessible Voting Centers (AVC) as Indigenous Peoples (IP) Established Precincts through Comelec Minute Resolution No. 10424,” the Comelec said.
“IPs and IP communities all over the country can now have their own precincts in their respective voting centers (SPP) or a precinct in a voting center that is near their community (ACV) not just for the upcoming May 13, 2019 National and Local Elections (NLE) but for all,” it added.
Data from the poll body revealed that as of December 2018, there are 66 AVCs and SPPs for IPs in the upcoming polls.
The 33 AVCs are in the following areas: five in Region III (Bulacan), 18 in Region IV-B (seven in Occidental Mindoro, eight in Oriental Mindoro, and three in Palawan), and 10 in Region XII (South Cotabato).
As for the 33 SPPs, they are in the following areas: one in Region III (Aurora) and 32 in Region IV-B (11 in Occidental Mindoro and 21 in Oriental Mindoro).
SPPs refer to the polling places established in existing voting centers where qualified IP voters shall cast their votes.
AVCs refer to the newly-established voting centers located nearer to the communities of the qualified IP voters where they shall cast their votes.
According to the poll body, some SPPs established as Indigenous Peoples (IP) Established Precincts will also have their own Vote Counting machine (VCM) for the 2019 National and Local Elections (NLE).
“By virtue of the clustering scheme approved by the Commission through Minute Resolution No. 18-1046, clustered IP Established Precincts per voting center with at least 150 IP voters will have exclusive use of a VCM for their respective precincts,” said the Comelec.
Pilot tested in the May 2016 national and local polls, the Comelec already had 23 AVCs and 32 SPPs in the May 2018 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections.
Comelec records show that there are over 100,000 IPs registered voters nationwide.
An environmental group pleaded with all political parties and their candidates and party-list groups participating in the May 2019 midterm polls to spare the environment from being ruined further by irresponsible campaign activities.
The EcoWaste Coalition urged parties and candidates to “make green” both their electoral platform and campaign strategy ahead of the start of the official campaign period this Tuesday (Feb 12) for senatorial bets and party-list groups,
“We dare all political parties and candidates to incorporate ecological sustainability into their electoral platforms. We challenge them to present green solutions to the electorate that will address our nation’s problems with environmental degradation, dirty energy, and climate change, chemicals and wastes, including the plastic pollution crisis,” said Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.
He said that “politicians should tell the public where they stand with regards to burning environmental issues such as single-use plastics and plastic packaging, electronic and plastic waste importation, dumpsite closure, waste-to-energy incineration, among other concerns.
“We further ask them to show their concern for Mother Earth by rolling out an eco-friendly campaign that will not harm and pollute the ecosystems,” he added.
An eco-friendly campaign, the EcoWaste Coalition said, should be compliant with the country’s electoral, environmental and health laws, particularly the Fair Election Act, Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Tobacco Regulation Act.
Instead of the usual 4Gs (guns, goons, gold, and garbage) of dirty politics, the group urged politicians and their backers to embrace the 4Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle, respect) of clean politics.