AT 9:30 a.m. Monday, February 18, a total of 520 students trooped to a designated area at the Hingatungan National High School (HNVS) in Silago, Southern Leyte to vote for their new student leaders, but this time without a pen or a paper.
By 4:30 p.m., the students got the results: Grade 11 student Paul Labrador Jr. won as president with 255 votes against Regine Padel, 62 votes.
The results for other positions also came out through the use of H-ACES (Hingatungan-Automated Counting Election System), the first of its kind in the province and even in the entire region under the Department of Education (DepEd).
Ronald Cuevas, the 37-year-old Eastern Visayas regional outstanding teacher in Technology and Livelihood Education (TLE) in the school, said he is introducing the new system “to replicate and educate the students to National and Local Automated Elections and to promote a fair and honest election through digitization.”
“This is HNHS version of Voter's Counting Machine (VCM) for an automated election. Our eKiosk is one of the transparency sub server intended for real-time results. The DepEd-issued tablet is our VCM,” said Cuevas.
The process of voting and counting is similar to that of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), he added.
He said his breakthrough project is auto-generated, using at least four transparency servers during casting of votes.
For transparency purposes, Cuevas distributed one server for their school principal Evelyn Saliente, another for Supreme Student Government (SSG)-Comelec chairperson Cherry Faeldilan, and the two other machines were given to the faculty and SSG.
“We had an initial debate about the security features. After we explained and showed to them the process, they were satisfied,” Cuevas said.
To cast their vote, the student used a PIN Code, a unique number per student and which is only known by the school’s election committee.
Asked on the cost of setting up their system, Cuevas said he and his colleagues were doing it on a voluntary basis.
“The equipment like tablets are from DepEd Computerization Program (DCP), while the e-Kiosk is school-owned. The internet connectivity is also from DepEd Internet Connectivity Program (DICP) budget, since we are a recipient,” said the unassuming yet innovative TLE teacher who had just released the first series of his e-book on blogging business last February 6.
Meanwhile, Cuevas hoped that other schools in the province can adopt the set-up they had in his school.
“The good news is DepEd has the target of its program and delivery on DepEd Computerization Program which will be completed in 2022. This is important so other schools can have the same equipment that we have here,” Cuevas told SunStar Philippines.
Despite the limited resources, Cuevas continues to share his expertise in computer programming to his peers in the province. (SunStar Philippines)