MANILA – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is planning to put up more special polling places for indigenous people (IPs), particularly in Bulacan and Puerto Princesa, for the May 2018 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections.
Comelec Commissioner Luie Guia said they are looking at establishing polling places for IPs in some barangays in the cities of San Jose del Monte in Bulacan and Puerto Princesa in Palawan.
"We are expanding the coverage of accessible polling places sa Mindoro and we will also be doing that in other provinces as well, particularly a number of barangays in Bulacan and Puerto Princesa," said Guia, head of Comelec Committee on Accessible Voting for Vulnerable Sectors.
Guia added that the areas were selected because of the large number of IP population qualified to become registered voters.
"We asked around which areas have recorded substantial numbers of IPs," he said.
The poll body official added that the additional polling places for IPs are apart from the places used in the pilot testing in Mindoro Occidental and Oriental during the May 2016 national and local elections.
"We want to make sure that the electoral processes will be accessible to as many qualified Filipinos as we can as there will be more accessible polling places," Guia said.
He added, "One of the biggest problems (of IPs) is their access to elections, especially those naturally living in far-flung communities. So we are the ones going to them."
In the last national polls, the Comelec has created 18 separate polling places (SPPs) and five accessible voting centers (AVCs) in 21 barangays in Mindoro Occidental and Oriental, where there are a total of 2,884 registered IP voters.
SPPs refer to the polling places established in existing voting centers, where qualified IP voters shall cast their votes.
On the other hand, AVCs are the newly-established voting centers located nearer to the communities of the qualified voters, where they shall cast their votes.
Poll body records show that there are about 100,000 registered IP voters nationwide. (PNA)