ILOILO CITY, Philippines – Though behind bars, some 538 unconvicted inmates in Iloilo will be given the chance to cast their votes in the May 9 polls. Though deprived of their freedom, the inmates retain the right to choose who will lead the Philippines moving forward.
The 459 male inmates detained at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) center in Ungka, Jaro and 79 female inmates held at the Iloilo City Police Office dormitory, who have yet to receive final conviction from the court, will be allowed to practice their right to suffrage.
COMELEC Iloilo City Election Assistant Jonathan Sayno explained that 18 special Board of Election Inspectors (sBEIs) will be deployed to the inmate dormitories tomorrow at 5 AM for the elections.
Since the detainees are not allowed to leave their jail dormitories, sBEIs will process each detainee’s information, listing together detainee-voters belonging to the same district, and fetch their ballots from their respective precincts.
The ballots will then be secured and brought to the respective inmates. Along with the rest of Iloilo, the detainees will start voting at 6AM. However, their voting time will only last until 2 P.M.
After the inmates cast their votes, their ballots will be sealed and sent back to their respective voting precincts at 2 PM where they will be canvassed.
Only national candidates
The inmates will only be allowed to vote for national positions – the president, vice president, 12 senators, congressman and partylist representative.
“Despite the fact that they are registered in these polling precincts, they are no longer official residents of their respective barangays since they’ve been detained for many years,” explained Sayno in Hiligaynon.
COMELEC Resolution 9371 or the “Rules and Regulations on Detainee registration and voting” states that detainees will be allowed to vote through special polling stations to be set up inside jails.
“The sBEI support staff shall ensure that all ballots of detainee voters reach the regular polling places in the voting centers where detainees are registered before the close of voting hours on election day,” Resolution 9371 states.
COMELEC Iloilo City organized an on-site voter’s registration for inmates of the BJMP Male Dorm in in September 2015. A total of 206 new voters were registered during the event, including 199 detained inmates and 4 jail officers.
Western Visayas has 1,441 registered inmate voters. Iloilo has the highest number of inmate-voters in the region, totaling 1,024 in the city and the province. It is followed by Antique with 118 inmates, Capiz (109), Guimaras (97), and Aklan (93).
Meanwhile, the national office of BJMP has announced that some 42,252 registered inmate voters are expected to exercise their right to suffrage in tomorrow’s elections. – Rappler.com
Rhick Lars Albay and Kim Dizon Rojas are Rappler Movers in Iloilo City.