The Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting volunteers will help ensure that Vote Counting Machines' (VCM) voter verification receipts are not brought out of polling precincts to prevent a feared upsurge of vote buying, Henrietta de Villa, former ambassador to the Vatican and PPCRV national chairperson, said yesterday.
The Supreme Court has ordered the Commission on Elections to enable the voter verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) feature of the VCMs to be used in the May 9 polls.
But to allay fears that the voters' receipts would encourage vote buying, the SC told the Comelec to ensure that voter verification receipts be deposited in a separate ballot box and not taken out of the precinct.
The enabling of the VVPAT is also expected to extend the May 9 voting hours.
De Villa told the DAILY STAR that, with the longer voting hours and the need to ensure that the voters receipts do not leave the precincts, PPCRV is in need of double the number of volunteers to be assigned as precincts watchers throughout the country, so they can work in shifts.
The PPCRV chair, who was in Negros Occidental Monday and yesterday, said that with 92,509 precincts nationwide and with an ideal four PPCRV volunteers per precinct they will need close to 400,000 people.
The Catholic bishops in Negros have committed to lend assistance to the PPCRV but the council is also open to volunteers from any religion provided they are non-partisan and non-violent, she said.
De Villa who joined a PPCRV training in the Diocese of San Carlos Monday, said the council is working on recruiting about 800,000 volunteers nationwide for the May polls.
This is because aside from those assigned at the precincts, they need people to man volunteers assistance desks at voting centers and to watch the transport of ballot boxes, she said.
She said that, aside from the PPCRV work on election day, they are also conducting voters' education campaigns against vote-buying and selling, and calling on the public to come up with informed, principled and conscience votes.
“We should vote for public officials based on their character, competence and wholeness as a person,” she said.*CPG
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