'All set' for tomorrow's polls

Subscribe Now May 12, 2013 at 09:16pm

Parish workers and public school teachers are ready to serve, safeguard, facilitate and ensure orderly and peaceful elections tomorrow, May 13.

Some 12,000 volunteers of the Cebu-Citizens’ Involvement and Maturation in People Empowerment and Liberation (C-Cimpel), the political arm of the Archdiocese of Cebu, will be deployed in more than 3,000 precincts.

Some 13,769 public school teachers in Central Visayas will be working as members of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI), with at least 4,839 assigned in Cebu Province.

No priority numbers

At the Lahug Elementary School, teachers were making last-minute preparations in the classrooms that will be used as voting precincts. They’ve also set up Certified Voters’ Lists (CVL) and various signs to guide voters when they cast their votes.

Jeramel Dago, BEI chairman for precinct cluster 135, said he hopes the lines will be orderly.

He said they won’t be issuing priority numbers like in the first automated polls in 2010. “It (line) will be on a ‘first come, first serve’ basis,” he told Sun.Star Cebu Saturday.

“Aside from the CVL, the precincts are color-coded to prevent chaos. Each voter will be given a cut-out colored paper containing his precinct number,” he said.

Dago said they will make sure to follow all guidelines issued by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for the entire voting process.

In a separate interview, C-Cimpel executive director Marilu Chiongbian told Sun.Star Cebu that 90 percent of poll watchers have been deployed and are guarding the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines that Comelec distributed last week.

She said 10 glitches were noted when the machines were tested and sealed but most of the defective ones had been replaced.

“We’re on schedule. Our main job (during the election) is poll watching,” she said.

The C-Cimpel is the local counterpart of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting and the National Movement for Free Elections.

Voting time

It’s accredited by the Comelec and is authorized to get the fourth copy of the election returns (ERs) from the precincts. However, it won’t be conducting any parallel counting.

Chiongbian said they stopped that when the automated polls were introduced in 2010.

Polling precincts will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. Anyone inside the 50-meter radius after closing time will still be allowed to vote.

To avoid crowding, Dago said, a batch of 12 voters will be accommodated at one time. Senior citizens are allotted half of the seats so they won’t have to line up in a priority lane.

“There will be no special treatment accorded to the voters. Anyone who leaves a queue will have to line up anew,” he said.

Voters are allowed to bring their mobile phones but they won’t be allowed to take photos of their ballots, Dago said.

The policy is aimed at guarding the privacy and sanctity of each vote cast.

The BEI will have a support staff of three persons, in addition to a C-Cimpel volunteer and a representative from each major political party.

Awaiting replacements

Dago said voters can try four times to feed their ballots into the PCOS machine.

Rejected ballots will be kept by the BEI chairman and turned over to the Comelec at the end of the day.

Dago said they expect tomorrow to be a long day because official ballots will be distributed as early as 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. while precincts will remain open until the last vote is cast and the results are transmitted.

But for a polling precinct in Barangay Labangon and Toong, the day may even be longer.

Their PCOS machines were ordered replaced after minor problems were discovered. The new ones have yet to arrive so both precincts have not finished the final testing and sealing of the machines, said PCOS supervisor Gerephil Molinar.

There are contingency PCOS machines at the Office of the Provincial Election Supervisor, but Dominic Ian Marigomen, election officer for the Cebu City north district, said these will only be used when machines do not respond or turn on.

In a related development, 30 foreign observers have been deployed in six areas around the country to monitor the elections.

Observers

Organized by the Compact for Peaceful and Democratic Elections, the team of seven volunteers for Cebu was presented during a press conference Saturday.

They are Faye Laquio, the team leader from the Philippines; Dante Garcia and Cindy Domingo from the US; Harrison Ellis from Canada; Mayasarah Lohse from Denmark; and Ton Van Naerson and Ruby Langeveld from The Netherlands.

Laquio said their team will observe elections in the northern town of Daanbantayan, which the Comelec had identified as an “area of concern (called hot spot in past elections).”

However, Daanbantayan was peaceful in the May 10, 2010 elections. It was only in Bogo City, which also belongs to the fourth district, where a standoff took place between supporters of Mayor Celestino Martinez Jr. and Rep. Benhur Salimbangon.

Daanbantayan Mayor Ma. Luisa “Malou” Loot said she will welcome their presence.

“That’s what I want. I like foreign observers to witness how peaceful the election in our municipality is, which was already proven in the past elections,” she said.

Loot said that as the wife of a police chief superintendent (equivalent rank of a general in the military), she should be a role model for a peaceful and honest election.

She wondered why the group singled out the town when there are other areas in Cebu that are “of concern” like Tuburan and Alegria or the cities of Toledo and Bogo.

Laquio said they picked Daanbantayan based on Comelec records and recommendations of their local counterpart.

Members of the International Observers Mission (IOMs) come from 16 countries, including Japan, Australia, Germany, Spain, Burma, Thailand, Afghanistan, Mongolia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

Aside from Cebu, the IOM teams are also deployed in Cagayan, Pampanga, Camarines Sur, Masbate and the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao.

Source: sunstar.com.ph



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