TIME constraint is not the only challenge faced by the church-based election watchdog Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) as there are not enough volunteers to assist in the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections Monday, May 14.
According to Bobby Villaluz, PPCRV coordinator for the archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro, many of the polling centers under its area of responsibility may have no PPCRV workers to help ensure that the local elections go smoothly.
The archdiocese is comprised of Cagayan de Oro City and the provinces of Misamis Oriental and Camiguin with about 65 parishes within its jurisdiction.
Cagayan de Oro has 32 parishes.
Aside from being pressed for time to recruit more volunteers for the May 14 elections, Villaluz said many of the group’s members had to dissociate themselves from PPCRV to run for the barangay or SK positions or help their friends and family members who are running.
Despite its lack of manpower, PPCRV has teamed up with radio groups that will act as monitoring team, especially in areas where there are no PPCRV volunteers.
“Aside from their group ID card, PPCRV will also issue them (radio groups) an ID during the May 14 elections,” he said.
Villaluz said it is PPCRV’s hope to change the country’s election traditions by advocating for friendship and Christian-like attitude before, during and after the elections.
He said all candidates must be forgiving to their political opponents and must be able to build good relationship with others.
“This is the new politics. There should be no more grudges or ill-feelings toward your political adversaries. Election is just one day, friendship is lifetime,” Villaluz said.
Meanwhile, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), in a statement, said it has issued a prayer for the May 14 elections to be recited by churchgoers during Holy Mass.
The prayer asks for the wisdom to elect people “who will work for truth, justice and the upliftment of human dignity” as it expresses the wish for a “gift of discernment” so that voters will elect candidates who will be able “to give a voice to the poor, the powerless, the abandoned, and the oppressed.”
The prayer, which is available in English, Tagalog, and Cebuano, was released to Roman Catholic churches on the eve of the campaign period.
High turnout of voters
Adding woe is the high turnout of voters expected in Cagayan de Oro alone.
City Comelec officer lawyer Ramil Acol said he expects voters’ turnout to reach 70 to 80 percent after the number of registered voters has increased, owing to the inclusion of 15 to 17 years old age bracket.
Cagayan de Oro has over 325,000 registered voters and there are about 109,000 voters who will choose for the SK council.
Acol reminded the public that voting time starts 7 a.m. and ends at 3 p.m.
Acol also encouraged voters to bring with them “kodigo” or a prepared list of candidates inside the polling center so as to hasten manual process of votes.
Ballots with erasures or unnecessary markings may not be counted.
The Cagayan de Oro City Police Office (Cocpo) has started deploying its personnel to intensify security measures.
Over 500 cops were deployed and are part of “quick reaction team” that will secure polling centers during canvassing of votes.
The government fielded a total of 4,463 policemen across the region to nearly 2,000 polling centers in Northern Mindanao.
The Police Regional Office-Northern Mindanao earlier identified 57 areas in Northern Mindanao belonging to the election watchlist areas (EWAs).
These areas have records of election-related incidents in the last 2016 elections.
No power cut-off
But one could take it a positive news.
The Cagayan de Oro Electric Power and Light Company, Inc. assured the public that there will be no power interruption in its coverage areas in time of the local electoral process.
Cepalco senior vice president Ralph Paguio said electric cooperative will try its best to have an uninterrupted electric service during the elections.
In case something beyond their control happens, Paguio said they have put in place contingency measures like augmenting its existing crew ready for standby and be deployed in a short period of time during emergencies.
He said several teams are also dispersed in their coverage areas.
“We have also started in February the checking of our service lines in polling areas. The City Engineers Office and Municipal Electricians also checked the electrical facilities of the polling areas,” he said.
“Anything adverse can happen, we will just make sure we are prepared to handle these situations,” Paguio added.
Cepalco, which power supply includes the municipalities of Tagoloan, Villanueva and Jasaan in Misamis Oriental, also made an assurance that there is enough power supply from its sources for this dry season.
Meanwhile, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines has activated its overall command center from May 11 to 17 as part of its preparations to secure power transmission operations and facilities during the elections.
Contingency plans are also in place to monitor and quickly address any grid disturbance, according to Mae Roselle Curiano, NGCP’s Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Specialist.
Curiano said NGCP’s critical units, such as systems operations and operations and maintenance, remain fully staffed and operational on May 14. While line crew, engineers, pilots, maintenance and testing, and other technical personnel are also strategically positioned in NGCP substations to respond should line tripping occur.
“NGCP’s Integrated Disaster Action Plan prescribes these and other measures to ensure the readiness of all power transmission facilities to be affected by emergencies or important national events. With its security and contingency preparations set, NGCP can ensure reliable power transmission services before, during, and after election date,” it said.