By Ellson Quismorio
The Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) did its part in educating the public about the ins and outs of the May 13 midterm elections.
This was basically the response of PPCRV Media Director Agnes Gervacio when sought for comment about the reported “over-voting” in the Senate race that caused over 1.1 million ballots to go to waste.
“We have representatives there right now as we speak taking a look at those exact matters. I think they’re doing a verification process at the moment,” Gervacio told reporters at the PPCRV command center in Manila.
It can be recalled that the Vote Counting Machines (VCM) used by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) during Monday’s polls were designed to reject or invalidate ballots with more than 12 marked candidates or votes for senator.
Gervacio went on to acknowledge that one of the primary mandates of the Church-backed poll watchdog is voter education.
“We started with [our] ‘Train the Trainers’ [program] January of this year. We had representatives coming from the dioceses of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, and that has been done and cascaded through Train the Trainers,” the PPCRV official said.
“We were not only sharing practical tips on this election on how to vote, what is the proper procedure; [but] we were also sharing tips on how to choose the perfect candidate for them to vote for,” Gervacio added.
“Just to share, ‘KKK’–Karakter, Kakayahan, Katapatan (Character, Capability, Honesty)–was our theme for choosing the perfect candidates to vote for,” she noted.
Asked if she thought voter education was lacking and therefore resulted in the significant number of over-voted ballots, Gervacio didn’t give a straight answer.
“Hindi po natin masabi kasi ang dami po nung posisyon na fini fill-upan natin [sa balota]. Pwede pong sa pagmamadali, sa kalituhan (Due to the high number of positions that we need to fill up in a ballot, we can’t say. It could be due to rushing or confusion),” she said.
Only 12 candidates will win seats in the Senate race.
This year marked the first time since the country adopted automated polls wherein neither the administration (13 bets) nor the opposition slate (eight bets) was composed of exactly 12 candidates.