The idea is to make registration more accessible to voters.
I am however not convinced of the wisdom of this experiment.
Malls are not insulated from politics.
Far from it.
Owners of malls are among the most politically-charged animals in this land.
They contribute millions of pesos to candidates during elections.
Owners of malls belong to the economic elite, who have vast, protectionistÂ interests in the outcome of our elections.
Thus, holding a political activity directly related to the elections inside malls, to my mind, is a risky idea that may threaten the integrity of the voting, if not the registration processes.
Second, malls are frequented by the moneyed people.
It may be argued that ordinary people flock to the malls.
But these type of ordinary people are ones with disposable money in their pockets.
They are people who can afford Jollibee.
What about those who canâ€™t?
What about those who belong to the lowest economic class, who are hardly welcome inside the malls owing to the plain absence of money to patronize the shops?
Where will they register?
Not only is the Comelec opening satellite offices in various malls to accommodate qualified voters for biometrics registration.
There is also a plan to allow voters to cast their ballots in shopping malls in next yearâ€™s polls.
This is all the more dangerous.
A mall owner tycoon who has his choice of candidate, to protect his own economic interest, can regulate all its malls in a way that the voting process tilts for or against a candidate.
A mall is private property.
Since it is private property, it is susceptible to private control.
It can be made less transparent, for instance,Â by preventing media from entering, precisely because it is private property.
The entry of people can be regulated.
Those voting for a candidate favored by the mall owner, upon connivance with the candidate and his cohorts,Â will be allowed easy entry.
Supporters or voters of the other camp will be given a difficult time.
This can happen precisely because it is a controlled environment.
I donâ€™t think it is a good idea to conduct a very sensitive political exercise within the confines of private property that is subject to the private owner withÂ his own private agenda.
The electoral processes are only democratic when they are held in a free and fair atmosphere.
A conducive atmosphere requires vastly credible system, one that is unbiased, balanced, characterized by independence, with full access to the mass media
Anything less is suspect. (By Atty. Jay I. Dejaresco)