Comelec signs deal with BJMP, PAO on PDL voting for 2023 BSKE

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 2) — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) inked a deal with the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) and the Public Attorney's Office on the implementation of persons deprived of liberty (PDL) voting for the upcoming Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections.

Top officials of all three agencies said this is the first time there was a memorandum of agreement on the implementation of PDL voting.

"Para maimplement natin ang desisyon ng Korte Suprema, kailangan natin ang PAO at ang BJMP para mabigyan sila ng authority na makalabas ng jails with escorts at makaboto," Comelec Commissioner in Charge for Vulnerable Sectors Aimee Ferolino said.

[Translation: To implement the Supreme Court decision, we need the PAO and BJMP so that they can authorize PDLs to leave jails with escorts in order to vote.]

PDLs who are formally charged and awaiting trial, and those serving prison sentences of less than a year, are qualified to vote in the local polls, according to the Comelec.

BJMP Chief JDir. Ruel Rivera says 56,679 PDLs from his agency will cast their vote.

"PDL under our jurisdiction will now cast their vote either through special voting centers established in the jail facilities or go to the voting precincts if their registered hometowns is in the same city or municipality where the jail is located," BJMP Deputy Chief for Operations JCSupt. Efren Nemeno explained.

Special polling centers may also be established inside jails where there are more than 50 voters. Rivera added that if there are not enough polling centers to accommodate inmates, they will be brought to voting precincts in their respective barangays with security escorts.

Comelec Chairman George Garcia said 63,400 inmates will be allowed to vote in the local polls on October 30, following the Supreme Court ruling last September 2022.

The high court in 2022 dismissed a petition filed by Atty. Victor Aguinaldo in 2015 to prevent PDLs from voting in the 2016 local elections.