After Robinsons, Comelec mulls elections in SM malls

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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After Robinsons, Comelec mulls elections in SM malls
'This will enhance the voting experience of our voters. It's a win-win in several respects,' Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista says

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is set to meet with SM, the Philippines’ largest mall operator, to discuss the possible use of SM malls to host voting precincts in the 2016 elections. 

“Tomorrow we will be meeting with SM on this matter,” Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista said Tuesday, July 14.

Bautista earlier announced that Robinsons Malls, one of the Philippines’ largest mall chains, agreed to host election precincts in 2016. 

He said on Tuesday that Frederick Go, president and COO of Robinsons Land Corporation, “is allowing Comelec to use the 42 malls of Robinsons for voting purposes.”

He said the Comelec is “looking into this possibility.”

“This will enhance the voting experience of our voters. It’s a win-win in several respects,” Bautista said in a news conference. 

‘Merienda’ before polls

“Everybody would like to vote in an air-conditioned place. There will be no power issues in terms of electricity or generators that are on standby. I think that the security will be better. It is well-lighted. In case there will be lines, the voter can go first to a bookstore or have merienda (snacks),” he said.

The Omnibus Election Code, or Batas Pambansa (BP) 881, says public schools or other public buildings may be used as polling places.

The Philippines has commonly used public schools during elections. Big crowds and long lines have usually plagued these election precints.

The law, however, also allows the use of “other appropriate private buildings” if “no public school or other public building” can be used during elections.

BP 881 was signed by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1985.

Bautista said: “A lot of outmoded ways are still in that law. Many changes have occurred in our society, technological and otherwise. I think we have to use these changes for the benefit of society.” –

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email