Video made and uploaded by reydjavier, used with permission by VERA Files.
WHEN dentist Jeana Lacsamana-Manalaysay voted in the 2010 elections, her husband and son had to lift her wheelchair up three steps to her voting precinct in Almanza Uno in Las Pinas.
The classroom where she was designated to vote was at the ground floor and actually had a ramp, but the way leading to it was barricaded, she said.
“Pinag-isipan ko noon kung itutuloy ko pa ba o hindi (I really thought about whether or not I should still vote),” said Manalaysay, who became a wheelchair user after she had a car accident in Jeddah in 1994.
“Ayaw ko ng binubuhat hangga’t maari (As much as possible, I don’t like to be carried),” she said, adding that this tends to draw people’s attention.
By next year, if things go as planned, Manalaysay won’t have to worry about reaching her voting precinct, with the Commission on Elections promising more accessible voting areas for PWDs.
But Manalaysay has mixed feelings about the Comelec’s accessible polling places (APP), which are provided for in Resolution 9485 or the rules and regulations for voting of PWDs and for the establishment of accessible polling places in connection with the May 13, 2013 national and local elections on June 29.
The APPs are to be administered by Special Boards of Election Inspectors for PWDs.
But Manalaysay, a board of director of the PWD Federation in Las Piñas, said the resolution still gives “special treatment” to PWDs and does not mainstream them. Still, she said the Comelec is doing its best and accepts the latest move as a learning process where loopholes could be fixed.
She said that instead of an APP, the poll body could have just opted to put PWDs in voting precincts located on the ground floor, so that PWDs themselves could enter their ballots in the PCOS (Precinct Count Optical Scan) machines.
She said Comelec still has time to go over the resolution.
Manalaysay is one of many women with disabilities who have succeeded in pursuing their careers.
Left paralyzed from the waist down by the car accident, she prevailed on her employers in Saudi Arabia to keep her employed, fearing joblessness if she returned to Manila. Manalaysay’s employers took a chance and allowed her to do secretarial work. She was also allowed to do dental procedures.
Manalaysay returned to the Philippines in 1996 and re-established her dental practice. She has also since become an active member of PWDs groups and embraced PWD rights as her advocacy. – Artha Kira Paredes