With only less than a month before the 2016 national elections, have you decided which candidates to vote for? In the latest community meet-up organized by iVolunteer Philippines, elections watchdog NAMFREL and PPCRV appeals to Filipinos to not too much focus only on which candidates to support, but to also be educated on voter’s rights and duties, and to be vigilant about protecting our votes.
Instead of heading straight to a night of partying and relaxation after a full week’s work, responsible millennials who have a desire to participate in nation-building gathered at the iVolunteer Community Meet-Up at The Office Project, Alpha Salcedo Condominium, Makati City on Friday, 22 April 2016, 7:30pm-10:00pm. The event was organized to help voters understand the electoral process, the role of election watchdogs, and how we can get involved in making sure that there will be a free, clean, and fair national and local election on May 9. The event was broadcasted live on iVolunteer’s Facebook page.
“Walang Saysay ang ONE GOOD VOTE, Kung Walang ONE TRUE COUNT!”
The two citizen arms accredited by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to ensure fair and clean polls, the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) and the National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL), gave their respective talks to enlighten the attendees about the important work being done and challenges being encountered by elections watchdogs. They reiterated points such as how to protect our votes, why every single vote counts, and how non-partisan individuals could make a difference by being a volunteer.
Both PPCRV and NAMFREL believe that even if you, the voter, could very well discern who are the best candidates to vote for, your one good vote will go to waste if there is no one good count. Thus, integrity in the conduct of elections and transmittal of election returns must be tightly guarded.
Why your vote matters
According to the latest report from COMELEC, there are over 54 million registered voters for the 2016 polls. Do you think that your own vote matters?
“The real essence of voting is to give each of us a voice in determining our country’s future, and to make sure that the leaders we chose to serve our nation are accountable to us,” says NAMFREL Secretary General Eric Alvia. Eric stressed that each of us need to set an example to others and the future generation about exercising our rights and duties as voters and citizens. He also mentioned that after 32 years of NAMFREL’s existence, the electoral process is still imperfect and vulnerable to fraud. However, he emphasized that our participation as voters should not stop at the actual process of voting. “We need to ask ourselves what lessons could be learned from the past and how we could use our voice to make our elections credible,” he adds.
PPCRV National Communications and Media Director Ana Singson, meanwhile, talked about the challenges in protecting the integrity of the electoral process including the glitches in the transmission of election results. She strongly encouraged coming in early to the election precincts to vote and to be educated about the process of casting your vote. She cited how many other voters could miss their chance to cast their vote because records show that majority of the voters would usually flock the precincts only after 2 p.m. This could have a serious implication especially in the coming polls as COMELEC announced that it’s cutting vote time by 2 hours. Ana added that delays could also be caused by the improper use of the voting machines, which she cautioned must be watched vigilantly by volunteer poll watchers, because a simple glitch in the machine could eat up at least 15 minutes for it to work properly again.
“Don’t just criticize, do something”
“[The election’s] not all gloom and doom though, but we really need help more than at any time in the past three elections. It is you who will make the elections count,” says Ana. She called on the millennials to invest in their future by taking an active participation in the polls as volunteer poll watchers in local precincts, or as encoders and telephone operators at the PPCRV command center in Manila. “Don’t just criticize, do something. We all need to do our bit,” she adds.
Eric reiterated the importance of not just focusing on the candidates but more so on the election process. “In any electoral transaction, data is not pure data, it is just being pushed to us. We want the data coming straight from the voting machines,” he says. For NAMFREL’s part, volunteers could participate in conducting the random manual audits on ballots for accuracy of counting the votes.
Ana also shared her personal story as a volunteer for PPCRV when she came to the point where she gave up and decided to leave the organization altogether. “Shortly after I resigned from PPCRV then, I met this volunteer, a woman who almost could not make ends meet, and I asked her why she keeps on doing what she does. She told me that she has almost nothing, but her service as a volunteer is the only thing she could give, and so this is what she’s contributing,” she shares. This encounter moved and prodded her to ask herself that if this woman could give so selflessly, then why can she not? From then on, she became more steadfast in her mission to help and live her passion as a volunteer.
Don’t miss your chance to invest in your future and the future generations. Watch out for the volunteer opportunities at PPCRV and NAMFREL at the iVolunteer website. Click here to join the latest PPCRV opportunities. Don’t just vote wisely; make your vote count!
By Miko Jazmine Mojica