“Usually, because of the nature of our work, we are assigned outside the place where we were registered. This is the reason why a lot of media workers cannot vote,” Jessie Casalda, the chairperson of NUJP-Davao, noted.
By ALEX D. LOPEZ
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) here welcomes the recent decision rendered by the Comelec en banc approving the petition seeking for early voting for the members of the media starting this 2013 mid-term election.
Jessie Casalda, the chairperson of NUJP-Davao, in an interview with davaotoday.com said the Comelec ruling is a positive development for it will allow media personalities to exercise their right of suffrage.
“Usually, because of the nature of our work, we are assigned outside the place where we were registered. This is the reason why a lot of media workers cannot vote,” Casalda noted.
Voting 5-1, Comelec allows over 200,000 media practitioners nationwide to exercise their right to vote early in May 2013.
Only one commissioner disagreed to the petition filed by a group of media persons who were represented by lawyer Romulo Macalintal.
In his dissenting opinion, Election Commissioner Christian Robert Lim said only Congress has the power to decide on the matter. The law governing local absentee voting only applies to the members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police.
Though he voted with the majority, Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes had his own separate opinion and clarified that he voted with reservations.
But the en banc ruled otherwise. Election Commissioner Rene Sarmiento who penned the resolution stated the Comelec is the “sole vanguard in enforcing and administering the constitutional right of suffrage” of every citizen including the members of the media.
The en banc saw no wrong in granting the petition of the media persons to exercise their rights to vote.
“But there is no implementing rules yet,” added Casalda. He said NUJP-Davao will closely monitor the issuance of the Implementing Rules and Regulations so that the same could be disseminated to its members.
The Comelec chair announced the IRR may be completed by the end of this year. Included in the rules would be the designated places for voting and the manner the votes would be cast.
But the Comelec chair said most likely the type of voting would be manual.
Meanwhile, Roan Abasolo of the Davao City Information Office (CIO) also expressed his gratitude to the Comelec for the passage of the early voting for media workers.
“I was once a media worker particularly in radio and oftentimes my assignment during election period is far from the place where I was registered,” Abasolo told davaotoday.com in an interview.
With the passage of the resolution, thousands of media workers can now express their right to vote, Abasolo added.
The country has 2,319 media outfits according to the data provided by the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP). Of the total number, 800 are print publications, 297 are television stations, 659 are FM radio stations and 383 are AM radio stations.
The petition was filed last April 15. Among the media personalities who filed the petition were Noel Alamar, Ariel Ayala, Leslie Ann Aquino, Gerard Anthony Nuval, Sheila Crisostomo and Jennifer Mangondo. (Alex D. Lopez/davaotoday.com)