Youth involvement program for polls launched

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Saturday, April 20, 2013


A NEW program, which aims for the involvement of the youth sector for a fair and clean May 2013 elections, was launched Friday.

The Operation e-Champ or the "Election that is Clean, Honest, Accurate, Meaningful and Peaceful" was spearheaded by the Davao Association of Catholic Schools Inc. (Dacs), in partnership with the National Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) and the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV).

Operation e-Champ will serve as election watchdog, which will be supported by the Dacs-member schools and various colleges and universities in Davao Region.

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According to Fr. Archimedes Lachica, Operation e-Champ project coordinator and representative of PPCRV, the program is a new strategy taken by Dacs wherein parishes will be the one responsible for educating the voters while the catholic schools will be doing the voting sighting part.

He said setting up the program was response to the request of Rev. Romulo Valles, archbishop of Davao, to consolidate voters' education activities conducted by different parishes in the Archdiocese of Davao.

Lachica said, during the launching of the program at the Dacs Training Center, that the program was formed by the urgency of the need to assist and help educate voters.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Davao City also urged the volunteers to be wary of violators during the May 13 polls.

First district election officer lawyer Aimee Ampoloquio said: "The poll watchers should know the process that the Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) should follow. It is also important for them to be aware of the Omnibus Election Code so that they will know the violations that candidates may commit."

Ampoloquio said the usual violations of BEIs are not following the procedures and allowing voters not included in the list of voters in a particular polling center to cast their votes while some voters usually assume the name of another person.

She also told volunteers to watch out for candidates who will be campaigning during the elections.

"Candidates are not allowed to campaign during the conduct of the elections. Some of their schemes would involve hiring children to distribute flyers outside the polling places. Volunteers should then report this to Comelec officers and other law enforcers in the vicinity of a certain polling place," she said.

Davao City Police Office (DCPO) chief of operations Chief Inspector Ariel Acala said they are encouraging volunteers to coordinate with them for any violators.

Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)-Davao City Chapter president lawyer Jose Edgar Ilagan assured that the violators will be prosecuted as long as the volunteers could present audio or video recordings of any violations.

The volunteers were being oriented by Davao City second district election officer lawyer Danilo Cullo on their duties and responsibilities during the automated elections.

Operation e-Champ is expecting at least 2,300 volunteers, tasked to either establish a voters assistance desk, roam around the different polling places and to assist in the procurement of election return documents. The volunteers will also be given kits which would contain the checklist of the things to do, t-shirts and identification cards.

Registration is open at the Dacs office, Holy Cross of Davao College for District 1, Assumption College of Davao for District 2 while district 3 volunteers may sign up at: St. Peter's College of Toril, Holy Cross College of Calinan and Holy Cross College of Mintal.

Registrants are also accepted at St. Mary's College of Tagum in Tagum City Davao del Norte, Holy Cross College of Bansalan and Holy Cross of Malita in Davao del Sur. (Ruji Peter S. Abat and Kriztja Marae G. Labrador, Silliman University Intern)

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on April 21, 2013.

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