SOME 345 municipal and provincial election canvassers in the Cordillera region participated in a three-day training from March 4 to 6 as part of their preparations for the May 13, 2013 elections.
Commission on Elections (Comelec) regional director Jose Nick Mendros said the training joined by canvassers from Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Mt. Province, Kalinga and Ifugao, consisted of lectures in operating Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines and the Canvassing Consolidation System.
The training, he said, also involved lectures which focused on general instructions on voting and counting and canvassing of votes using the canvassing system.
“This is not just a refresher for municipal and provincial board of canvassers but this is actual training for them to carry out their duties as it also involves canvassing system operators in the region,” he said.
Actual training involved contingency planning and troubleshooting for different scenarios to ensure preparedness of canvassers during the elections, he said.
Mendros said that although the Board of Canvassers and the Board of Election Inspectors will use the same machines used in the 2010 national elections, several improvements were carried out by the commission to include several security features.
“For example, every time a canvasser opens a window using the software, a pin is requested first from the chairman of the board of canvassers,” he said.
The role of board of canvassers in the electoral process, he said, is crucial as they are in charge of proclaiming the winning candidates in the local polls.
Meanwhile, the regional director said they are now finalizing the dates for the training of thousands of teachers in the region who will serve in the Board of Election Inspectors.
He said they will conduct these training in the provinces not later than March 27 as conducting it in Baguio City entails additional expenses and travel time for trainees.
On issues related to the Precinct Count Optical Scan machines, the Comelec regional director stressed doubts on the capabilities of the machine to count and transmit votes are all speculations right now.
He said the agency has laid out contingency plans to ensure the smooth conduct of elections and safeguard the votes.
“When there are brownouts, these machines will work as they have standby batteries. If there is no telecommunication signals poll officers may use satellite transmissions,” he said.
He also said other contingency plans include the bringing of Compact Flash cards containing the votes by the BEIs to the canvassing centers in the municipal halls where a standby card reader will be used to read the votes.
“Of course we will not let our BEIs bring the CF cards without any security. The police will secure the BEIs whenever there is physical transmission,” he said.
The Comelec regional head also stressed they are in constant coordination with the Philippine National Police through weekly command conferences to ensure peaceful elections this coming May.