Comelec allows inmates to vote in May polls | 02/26/2010 8:28 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Elections on Friday said it is allowing prisoners and detainees to exercise their right to vote in the coming May 2010 elections.
The Comelec said the special privilege will apply to three categories of prisoners: those whose cases have yet to reach a final judgment, those who are facing prison for less than a year and those whose cases are still on appeal. "These are Filipinos with civil and political rights and we are just respecting the Constitution of the Philippines and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento said.
Under the Voter’s Registration Act of 1996, any person who has been sentenced by final judgment to be imprisoned for not less than one year, and any person who has been judged to have committed any crime “involving disloyalty to the duly constituted government such as rebellion, sedition, violation of the firearms laws or any crime against national security” shall be disqualified from registering as a voter.
The Comelec's decision was a victory for the Commission on Human Rights, Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines Episcopal Commission on Prison Pastoral Care and the Preso Foundation who earlier petitioned the poll body to allow prisoners to exercise their right to suffrage.
According to the Comelec resolution, the poll body will set up special polling places and board of election inspectors in prisons that have at least 100 registered voters. The ballots will then be brought to the clustered precincts for the actual counting and transmission of the results.
The Comelec earlier said there are 24,000 registered voters who are incarcerated in 414 jail facilities around the country.

as of 02/26/2010 8:28 PM