DepEd, teachers unprepared for manual count
MANILA, Philippines – The public school teachers tasked to serve in the country’s first nationwide automated polls are not ready to conduct a manual count.
This admission was made during a pre-election briefing on Wednesday at the Department of Education (DepEd) in Pasig.
Education Assistant Secretary Jonathan Malaya, DepEd spokesman, told ABS-CBN News on Wednesday that the DepEd and its teachers are not prepared for a manual vote count if the automated count fails.
Malaya said they have to depend on the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to provide the necessary materials in case a manual vote count is necessary.
“We expect that they (Comelec) will give us paraphernalia in the event of a manual poll count,” Malaya said. “There is no way we can do it without the forms.”
Malaya also confirmed that many teachers serving in the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) were worried after most of the more than 3,000 PCOS machines tested last Monday in Luzon malfunctioned.
The DepEd spokesman told the worried teachers that the Comelec will fix the problem.
“The Comelec has assured us that the automated elections will happen,” Malaya said. “Failure is not an option. We give our trust and confidence to them. We are just Comelec deputies.”
Despite Malaya’s assurance, the leader of the DepEd National Employees Union said many teachers serving in the BEI were worried.
“The BEI is not prepared for a manual vote count,” said lawyer Domingo Alidon, president of the DepEd National Employees Union. “We should have a contingency plan. We have very little time to get ready for a manual vote count.”
He believes it would be better for everyone if the DepEd and the Comelec have a Plan B.
Not everyone at the briefing was pessimistic, though.
“I’m positive,” said a BEI member after the briefing. “I am going to give Comelec a chance.”
InfoTech savvy teachers
In a related development, DepEd Secretary Mona Valisno said every BEI in each precinct in the country has at least one teacher who is certified as information technology capable.
She said the Department of Science and Technology had certified 137,200 teachers as information technology capable with an average passing rate of 91 percent.
“The DOST Certification Program for BEIs is an important step to ensure the success of the first automated elections in the country. With all the trainings and seminars they had, our teachers are fully prepared to perform their electoral duties,” Valisno said. “Hopefully this certification will reduce, if not take away, any doubts for the coming May elections and boost our confidence for an orderly election.”
Don’t take youth vote for granted
Meanwhile, a youth group organized by the Philippine National Police (PNP) is about to conclude their campaign for peaceful elections.
Young Vote of the Philippines spokesman Neil Lim said his group was reminding the youth and first time voters to be “vigilant and careful in choosing their candidate.”
He said the youth vote should not be taken for granted because the youth makes up a large segment of the country’s voters. Records show that the youth account for 54 percent of the voting population.
Young Vote Philippines was organized by the PNP’s Task Force HOPE (Honest Orderly Peaceful Elections). — reports from Niña Corpuz and Gus Abelgas, ABS-CBN News