Monday, May 10, 2010

17,888 posts up for grabs (CBCP urges Filipinos to pray for peaceful, clean elections)

May 9, 2010, 5:13pm

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A total of 50.8-million voters are expected to troop to 76,340 polling precincts Monday to elect government leaders, including the successor of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, in the country’s first automated national and local elections.

Up for grabs are a total of 17,888 elective positions – one president, one vice president, 12 senators, 222 members of the House of Representatives, 80 governors, 80 governors, 762 provincial board members, 120 city mayors, 120 city vice mayors, 1,514 municipal mayors, 1,514 vice mayors, 1,346 city councilors, and 12,116 municipal councilors.

Also to be contested by 187 partylist groups are some 45 available seats in the Lower House.

The electorate, however, may need to go to their assigned voting precinct before 7 a.m. since some of the precincts will have 1,000 voters due to the clustering of precincts.

Aside from having to contend with the big number of voters, the electorate may also need some time to familiarize themselves with the new system of voting given the automation of the elections.

Unlike in the manual polls, wherein the voter need to write the name of the candidate on the ballot, under the Automated Election System (AES), a voter simply has to shade the oval next to the name of the candidate of their choice and feed their ballot to the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines.

Comelec Spokesman James Jimenez, however, explained that voting is still manual while the counting, transmission and canvassing are automated for quick results.

Under the AES, the electronic results of voting in each of the more than 76,000 clustered precincts are set to go directly and simultaneously to the municipal, provincial and national board of canvassers as well as to the servers of the accredited citizens’ arm and the dominant majority and minority parties.
Jimenez, meantime, issued the following reminders to voters:

First, go out and vote.

Second, vote early.

Third, bring “kodigo” where the names of your preferred candidates are listed.

Lastly, don’t use cellphone inside the precinct.

Voting period will be from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

CBCP calls for peaceful polls

As this developed, Bishop Nereo P. Odchimar, head of the Diocese of Tandag City and concurrent president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), called on all Filipino faithful to “deeply” pray for a peaceful, credible, and orderly conduct of the country’s historic and first automated elections.

“We must deeply pray for the success of this election,” said Odchimar.

He stressed, “I am deeply praying for peaceful, honest and reliable polls.”

The CBCP head repeatedly asked Filipinos to pray for guidance from God.On the other hand, former CBCP president and also head of the Diocese of Butuan City Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos asked the voters to follow their “conscience” and help this poll “meaningful” and honest”.

“Everybody must pray and everybody has a vital role to play to make this election a successful one,” added Bishop Pueblos, on Sunday.

The prelate also asked the Commission on Election (Comelec), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and Philippine National Police to “seriously” do their job in the name of God so that this election will be successful and meaningful.

Meanwhile, around 80,000 college students from the Catholic schools will be deployed to all the clustered polling precincts across the country in order to secure the country’s first automated May 10 polls, it was learned Sunday.

According to Msgr. Gerry Santos, president of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP), the volunteers ranging from 18 years old and above are already given assignments at various polling places as watchers.

He said majority of the students from the CEAP’s 1,200 member schools, colleges, and universities are computer savvy.

“They are IT (information technology) savvy, they are IT literate and they can do some (computer) troubleshooting,” said Msgr. Santos.

He added that the group of Catholic educators with the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations entered into a memorandum of agreement with the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV).

The PPCRV is accredited by the Commission on Election (Comelec) as its official citizens’ arm.

PPCRV has also about one million volunteer poll watchers across the country, it was gathered. (With a report from Mike U. Crismundo)

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