The Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) convened a Pre-Election National Conference on March 6 to 8, 2013 at the Pius XII Catholic Center. We, the one hundred eighty-two (182) delegates who attended the Conference came from eighty-three (83) dioceses nationwide, including participants from seventeen (17) Bangsamoro Civil Society Organizations, our partners in the ARMM. We came together in order to consolidate our preparations for the coming 13 May 2013 National and Local Elections, by way of three objectives:
- To strengthen the bonds within the PPCRV family for a more effective and efficient compliance of our 3-fold mandate as COMELEC’s Citizens’ Arm for the upcoming polls: Voters’ Education, Poll Watching, Conducting an Unofficial Parallel Count.
- To identify and address operational gaps in order to ensure a seamless care of the 2013 Elections.
- To hear, see, touch local and national situations as we pursue the long-term goal of our mission of continuing voters’ education and formation of volunteers during off-election season.
Taking note of the times we live in vis-à-vis the forthcoming 13 May 2013 National and Local Elections, we realized, with some sense of dismay, the similarity to the national situation in 1991 when the Second Plenary Council of the Church in the Philippines (PCP II) was convened. The PCP II in its Conciliar Document stated, “We live in the worst of times. We live in the best of times. But only if crisis is made to become kairos. And we seize the moment and respond to its challenge. As we should, always in faith.” The lay participants in that Council seized the moment, responded to the challenge, and the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) was born. It was the first concrete response of the laity to the call of PCP II for renewal and transformation.
The culture of Philippine politics continues to demand renewal. The 3Gs – Guns, Goons, Gold – that plagued our elections then still haunt our elections now, with an additional 4th G demon: GREED. While automated elections have initiated the dramatic decline of dagdag-bawas, a gross election anomaly, vote-buying and vote-selling continue to escalate. A good number of politicians are unabashed in employing all means to tighten their stranglehold on political and, consequently, economic power. Yet voters can’t seem to activate their conscience when it comes to choosing their candidates.
Obviously, we are still in crisis. Still again we are impelled by our faith on fire to commit ourselves to living as a community of disciples with preferential love for the poor and the youth, welcoming the religious and members of other cultures and inter-faith groups to dedicate our time, talent and treasure in seeking and proclaiming CHAMP – Clean Honest Accountable Meaningful Peaceful – Elections.
Making an honest assessment of our resources, capabilities and tools in terms of our 3-fold mandate of Voters’ Education, Poll Watching and Conducting an Unofficial Parallel Count, as well as the relationships we need to strengthen from within and without, we came up with the following resolutions:
We, the delegates who are PPCRV Coordinators in the dioceses we represent, pledge to make an effort beginning with ourselves, and to cascade to our parish movers of PPCRV CHAMP to exercise exemplary patience, respect and loving care when relating with COMELEC officials and staff, BEIs and other election stakeholders. That PPCRV’s noble and loving deeds may proliferate. We also pledge to be pro-active instruments of God who is love in transformative works related to our mandate of Voters’ Education, Poll Watching and Unofficial Parallel Count. That in our persons and programs we remain just, fair, and non-partisan while being intensely values-oriented. We promise to maintain a sharp mind bolstered by a fighting and loving heart so as to maintain PPCRV’s credible and indelible name in this country. That especially in this Year of Faith, we will stand, live, and light up our faith and set it on fire in the heart of our PPCRV service. Our ARMM Bangsamoro brothers and sisters join us in supporting CHAMP as together we make ourselves open and available to our God and our mission. With this consciousness pervading our attitude and actions, we resolved, as we hereby resolve:
On Organizational and Institutional Concerns
– To humbly elevate to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) our prayerful petition that our Bishops recognize and strengthen PPCRV as the overall coordinating body in the diocese for voters’ education and monitoring the conduct of elections and other related activities wherein it will function before, during and after elections; that PPCRV be organized on the diocesan, vicariate and parochial levels, and that per diocese a priest and a lay coordinator be appointed by the Bishop to organize, coordinate and oversee PPCRV activities in the diocese, and that the PPCRV be the official Citizens’ Arm representing the diocese in relating with COMELEC; that this space of the laity’s nonpartisan involvement in proclaiming Christ as CHAMP in our elections be allowed to flourish, and be recognized as one of the gifts of the Spirit In renewing the face of our elections; all this we ask in faith, hope and love that PPCRV, the first concrete and immediate laity response to the PCP II call for renewal and revitalization of Christian life may not expire because of neglect and other human considerations;
– To express our solidarity with and full support for the 1ST PPCRV NCR CAMPUS YOUTH CONGRESS “KILOS KABATAAN” held on Friday 8 March 2013 from 3:00 to 7:00 PM at the Pasig Catholic College, an event for the youth, by the youth and with the youth, and our ardent hope that this will fructify into the establishments of PPCRV CHAMP campuses in all schools, colleges and universities nationwide; that these CHAMP campuses will be the meeting ground for students who will animate non-partisan political action towards the cleansing of politics primarily through CHAMP Elections and graduating to involvement in good governance;
– To extend to COMELEC all out assistance so that, as per the Omnibus Election Code on the role of accredited Citizens’ Arm, we follow its resolutions and directives, for as long as these are lawful and aligned to the common good;
– To express heartfelt thanks to Commissioner Christian Robert S. Lim and Executive Director Jose M. Tolentino, Jr. for gracing our National Conference with their presence and participation in the COMELEC Hour segment of our Program, and for sincerely, spontaneously and patiently responding to the many inquiries from our delegates during the Question and Answer portion, even if these went beyond the allotted time which conveyed an affirmation that we are indeed partners for CHAMP Elections;
On Voters Education
– To remember and put into effect, that while the formation of responsible voters is our primary concern, PPCRV must also be equally concerned in the formation of responsible citizens, and encourage their informed involvement in good governance;
– To in-form ourselves and our volunteers through continuous formation of the need to be exemplars of patient endurance, loving service, fortitude and faithfulness as demanded from the followers of our Almighty and Merciful God;
– To give emphasis during our training sessions on Voters’ Education to the Ten Commandments for Responsible Voting which is a hallmark voters’ formation material of PPCRV when it comes to the selection of candidates, and to give this widespread promotion;
– To include, especially for the youth, the 3Ks – Karakter, Kakayahan, Katapatan – module, in face to face voters’ education, radio infomercials, television and print ads;
– To maximize the novelty and impact of the C.H.A.M.P.S. comics and its attendant components through nationwide distribution to all sectors, as well to think out its translation into the major dialects, and its serialization for continuing education;
– To enjoin PPCRV National that the Voters’ Education materials it generates be allocated in bigger quantities to the dioceses;
– To see to it that for succeeding elections Voters Education materials be ready for early distribution since dioceses begin their formation sessions as early as October of the year preceding elections;
On Poll Watching
– To have an integrated program for the parishes regarding mobilization of Poll Watchers in monitoring the conduct of elections, especially for the youth, with the participation of mandated organizations, associations and movements in the diocese;
– To conduct in the diocese (by the diocesan Coordinator) mapping of volunteers in order to determine in precise methods, and for the purpose of our coverage of the clustered polling precincts, the number of Poll Watchers to be fielded on election day, and to render a report on this to PPCRV National on or before 5 April 2013;
– To identify, through an inventory of the status of PPCRV parish units the poll watching gaps and create a contingency plan i.e. SWOT as Roving Team, assign seminarians, conscript other non-partisan groups, etc., for the retrieval of the 4th copy of the Elections Returns printed by the PCOS machine right after the close of voting and prior to transmission, said 4th copy is to be sent to PPCRV National for the Unofficial Parallel Count (UPC) it will conduct for the 2013 Elections, ;
– To submit to the COMELEC Provincial Election Supervisor (PES) and Election Officer (EO) by the PPCRV diocesan Coordinator of every diocese the Appointment Papers of the Poll Watchers of their respective dioceses not later than 28 April 2013, to have these signed as received, as well as accept any corresponding COMELEC IDs said PES or EO may give;
– To send to PPCRV National by the diocesan Coordinators the exact number of PPCRV IDs for Precinct Poll Watchers, Technical Assistance Group (TAG) Poll Watcher, Accountable Materials Verifiable Audit Trail Team (AMVATT) Poll Watcher and Special Witnesses to Truth (SWOT) Poll Watcher of their respective dioceses not later than 5 April 2013;
– To provide Poll Watching Manuals to each Polling Place Poll Watcher and for PPCRV National to send these to the dioceses early enough;
On Communications and Media
– To share all materials and presentation shown during the National Conference by Communications and Media Director to all participants, especially to those unable to download these from the PPCRV website due to lack of adequate transmission capabilities;
– To continue giving valuable tips to Diocesan Coordinators on the effective and practical use of Social Networking and identify activities needing support, including designating assignments to local PPCRV units that can be done through Facebook, Twitter, and the like;
– To designate a responsible person from PPCRV National per region to respond to website queries on local issues, swiftly and knowledgeably;
On Information and Technology
– To provide training for all PPCRV TAG and AMVATT volunteers, or at least trainors to train them;
– To coordinate with COMELEC for joint training on the PCOS machines and other related technical matters;
– To give to each PPCRV diocesan Coordinator the schedules for the arrival/delivery of PCOS machines and other election paraphernalia early enough for the proper deployment of local TAG / AMVATT volunteers who will monitor this;
– To especially inform TAG/AMVATT volunteers through the diocesan Coordinators what to watch out for during the Final Testing and Sealing (FTS) of the PCOS machines;
– To maintain a hotline in the National Command Center for IT problems from local PPCRV units;
RECOMMENDATIONS ADDRESSED TO COMELEC
– That the BEIs be equipped with knowledge and tools through more intensive and longer training in managing the AES (Automated Election System) inside the polling places;
– That the En Banc Resolution allowing three (3) PPCRV representatives to attend all BEI trainings nationwide be seriously implemented, firstly by providing the PPCRV with the schedules of said training (date, time and venues) early enough for dissemination to our Provincial Coordinators;
– That it be emphasized in all BEI training sessions that the following should be given to PPCRV:
a.) the 4th copy of the Election Returns printed by the PCOS after the close of voting
and prior to transmission;
b.) one of the 27th to the 30th copies of the post transmission Election Returns;
c.) copies of all the audit logs and audit trails;
– That the statement of votes, 4th copy of the certificate of canvass, and audit trail reports be given to the PPCRV at the completion of the consolidation and canvassing process.
– That PPCRV be regarded as an ally in helping COMELEC do a good job of administering elections, and thus provide us on time the needed election documents, i.e. CVL or EDCVL, POP, PCOS and election paraphernalia deployment schedules, etc. to facilitate CHAMP Elections;
– That the complaints and/or reports on misbehaviour/partisan leanings of non-performing Regional Election Directors (REDs), Provincial Election Supervisors (PES), Election Officers (EOs), etc. be acted on with dispatch;
– That for a more efficient implementation of the AES, the IT Department of the COMELEC be enhanced so as to lighten its overload and thus ensure faster response to concerns and issues on IT;
– That one expert IT technician be provided for every five (5) clustered precincts, as promised by the COMELEC;
– That our specialized Poll Watchers – TAG (Technical Assistance Group) and AMVATT (Accountable Materials Verifiable Audit Trail Team) be provided with timely and necessary information to enable them to perform their duties well, which, in turn, will add credibility to the AES;
– That value-formation during BEI trainings be considered by the COMELEC.
The challenges we have to respond to for the 2013 Elections are almost identical to the ones we faced when we were preparing for our first attempt into being caregivers of the Electoral Process in the 1992 Synchronized National and Local Elections. They have even taken on wider dimensions. But we are unfazed.
This conference gave us a chance to listen to each other’s struggles, to our anguish at times when we felt abandoned by those whom we looked up to for support, and when we were desperate for funds; to our feelings of distress when volunteers we have trained, because of poverty of means and principles, walked away to become paid poll watchers of political parties.
But we also heard each other’s joys that filled our hearts when a good candidate made it; when our volunteers came in sun and rain; when our priests clasped hands and hearts with us in pilgrim fellowship of faith; when our bishops and other religious leaders, through their encouraging support, conveyed that we lay people are co-responsible for the mission of the Church; and best of all, when all PPCRV joined hands for CHAMP. That we have each other still, holding on together to face enormous problems with extravagant hope. Because we have GOD. And His power. . . the power of love. Teaching us that adherence to just laws is fulfilling God’s Law of love. Giving us the example that standing up for each other is a way of laying down our lives for others. O, our God who is like none other . . . who is faithful even if we are unfaithful.
And so in the spirit of the Year of Faith, we first strive to become living witnesses by making ourselves CHAMP – Courageous, Humble, Accountable, Meek, Prayerful that we may, please God, bring to Elections 2013 CHAMP – Clean Honest Accountable Meaningful Peaceful.
For PPCRV, CHAMP is CHRIST in our elections.
PPCRV PRE-ELECTION NATIONAL CONFERENCE
March 6,7,8, 2013
Pius XII Catholic Center
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