Youth sizzles poll volunteerism in Region 12

Voters line up at a precinct at the Koronadal Central Elementary School 1 for the mid-term national and local elections on May 13, 2019. MindaNews photo by BONG SARMIENTO

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/13 May) – Majority of the volunteers to the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) of the Diocese of Marbel who served in the May 13 mid-term national and local elections belong to the youth sector, a priest said.

Father Ariel Destora, the diocese’s Social Action Center director, lauded the youth for volunteering themselves to help achieve clean and honest elections in the area.

“The youth’s spirit of volunteerism shows their growing social awareness,” he said.

Destora said the youth volunteers brought their laptops or used their cellular phones to help voters find their precincts.

Over 2,000 individuals from 28 parishes across the diocese earlier signed up as PPCRV volunteers.

The PPCRV, which Comelec accredited as the citizen’s poll watchdog, put up help desks at the precincts to assist voters.

Like in the past elections, Destora said that some voters in the diocese failed to vote because their names were not on the voters’ list.

The priest also said they monitored vote buying in the area but “so far no one came forward to us to issue an affidavit due to security concerns.”

The diocese covers the entire provinces of South Cotabato and Sarangani and parts of Sultan Kudarat, which comprises Region 12.

Destora said they have not monitored any major problem as of 2 p.m. regarding the conduct of the elections in the area.

Lawyer Renato Magbutay, Comelec-12 acting director, said the elections also opened “generally smoothly” across the region by 6 a.m., except for some delays such as the installation of vote counting machines.

He  said that at least 15 secure digital (SD) cards used in the vote counting machines were corrupted, apparently due to mishandling.

The glitches were addressed by the Comelec’s technical team, he said.

“Some of them may have been inserted before the machine was turned on,” he said.

In Koronadal City, senior citizens and persons with disabilities were given priority by teachers acting as election officials at the Koronadal Central Elementary School 1 here, where some voting precincts opened a bit delayed due to technical glitches.

As early as 5:00 am, voters flocked at the school to look for their precincts but were able to cast their votes at around 6:30 a.m., particularly at Clustered Precinct 16.

Noel Serquiña, the precinct’s Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) chair, apologized to the voters who lined up early, saying they have been up since 2 a.m. to get the election paraphernalia.

But as official election time opened at 6 a.m., the BEI members were still installing the vote counting machine.

Voting was also delayed because the BEIs were trying to ascertain the serial number of the ballots.

“This is the first time we opened the ballots,” he said around 6:15 a.m.

The first voter, a female senior citizen, was able to cast her vote around 6:30 a.m.

Sequinia explained to the voters to mark only the required number of candidates, 12 for the Senate for example, otherwise their ballots will not be counted.

He said under-votes will be considered but not over-votes. (Bong S. Sarmiento/MindaNews)