DAVAO CITY, Dec. 21 – A total of 1,374 Davao City jail inmates are expected to vote in the 2010 elections, this was the record gathered from the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) in the Davao Region.
Jail Director Rosendo M. Dial said of the 2,026 detainees in the region, 1,374 are eligible to cast their votes next year following the Commission on Elections (Comelec) implementing guidelines on inmates’ registration and its Minute Resolution No. 09-0307.
Dial said of this figure, Davao City Jail has the highest of number inmates with registered 968 voters; followed by Tagum City Jail in Davao del Norte with 151; Davao City Female Jail 117; Panabo City, Davao del Norte Jail, 74; Davao City Jail-Annex, 40; Digos City, Davao del Sur Jail, 20; and Samal City in Island Garden City of Samal, Davao del Norte Jail, four. The rest of small jails have no registrants as inmates failed to qualify during the registration process.
Dial said according to Comelec’s resolution and guidelines, there will be an off-site and on-site voting, adding that the Comelec will put up a satellite precinct inside those jails having more than 200 registrants (detainees) while the smaller jails with less registrants will resort to escorting inmates outside jail.
Detainees need to obtain a court order to be allowed to go out and vote outside jail premises, he said.
Dial said the court order was the result of the series of meetings held by the members of the Technical Working Group (TWG) composed of concerned government agencies and civil society chaired by Dial, regarding the participation of inmates all over the country in future electoral processes.
With the resiliency of the 1987 Constitution, however, he said the TWG learned that inmates could indeed register and vote under the constitutional presumption of innocence.
On May 2009 Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento approved the mechanism that will allow inmates to cast their ballots in the 2010 elections through satellite registration and escorted voting.
This is the first time in Philippine election history that these detainees who have not been given a final sentence will be empowered to vote, Dial said.
He said the legal basis for instituting this concept sprung from the constitutional provision under Article III Section 1 and 14 which says “the accused is always presumed innocent of the crime committed until proven guilty by the court.”
The Comelec allows them to vote because their cases are still pending in court, he added.
Meanwhile, BJMP regional director S/Supt Emmanuel Sicio assured the public and political candidates that the BJMP Davao will remain neutral in the exercise of inmates’ right to vote. (PNA) FFC/JLC/lvp