Elections to continue in ‘Pablo’ areas

Karlos Manlupig

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Elections will continue in Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley, two of the provinces hardest hit by Pablo last year

Teachers in Baganga Central Elementary School prepare for the May 13 elections. Photo by Karlos Manlupig

BANGANGA, Philippines – With only a few hours before the elections, teachers in their working clothes slowly file wooden desks that would divide a small school building here into 4 polling precincts.

The school building bears scars of the devastation brought by Typhoon Pablo in Davao region. Its walls, windows and roof were damaged, but the building was fortunate to remain standing.

Elections will continue in Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley, the provinces hardest hit by Pablo last year. The typhoon destroyed many schools and classrooms and paralyzed the transmission of electricity in the provinces.

Baganga Central Elementary School principal Helenita Prostrero said two school buildings were used in the previous elections but the present condition forced them to accommodate at least 4,000 voters in a cramped space.

“There is another available building but the wiring was destroyed by Pablo,” Prostrero said.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) provided wiring but it was only enough to reach the first building, shared Prostrero.

“I am worried that election will be very noisy, crowded and very hot,” Prostrero said.

Prostrero said they are still appealing to the election officers in the area to provide additional wires so that they would be able to transfer two cluster precincts to the other building.

“We are asking Comelec to provide additional wirings so that we can use other rooms,” Prostrero said.

Despite their situation, Prostrero vowed they would do what they can to be of service on election day Monday, May 13.

“Regardless of this problem, we are set to go.”

He said people are also eager to vote.

“I don’t think Typhoon Pablo would affect the people and the elections. In fact, Baganga residents who are working in Davao City went home just to cast their votes.”

Comelec readies stable power source

To ensure the success of the elections, Comelec Region 11 director Wilfred Jay Balisado said they have already dispatched 242 generator sets that would be used in areas where electricity hasn’t been restored.

Balisaod explained that even though the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines have batteries that would last for 16 hours, the generator sets would ensure a more stable source of power that may also be utilized for lighting, charging and electric fans.

Out of the 3,501 PCOS machines that will be used in the Davao region, 529 are in Compostela Valley, while 434 are in Davao Oriental.

Comelec gave assurance there would be no problem transmitting data in the region.

“Smartmatic reported that there would be no problem. If ever there would be difficulty on transmission we also have the satellite. As long as there is signal then we will have no problem,” Balisado assured.

If ever there would be areas with intermittent mobile network services, Balisado said election teams have the option of transferring to a location with a more stable signal or transport the compact flash (CF) card enclosed in an envelope marked with “not transmitted” to the Poblacion area.

The CF card can be inserted to another machine in the Poblacion for transmission, Balisado said.

He explained that a back-up CF card would remain inside the PCOS machine that would serve as means for counterchecking if ever their would be electoral protest concerning the transporting of the card.

Teachers are ready

DepEd Region 11 spokesperson Dodong Atillo said teachers are confident that they would be able to perform their duties well after years of experience in facilitating the elections.

“There will be no problems with the teachers. We are always ready and we are always happy to help,” Atillo said.

“We trust Comelec to resolve issues so that everything will go smoothly on the election day,” he added. – Rappler.com

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