Key leaders of the church, government, and non-government sectors in Negros Oriental vowed on Wednesday to collaborate with each other to attain a Clean, Honest, Accurate, Meaningful and Peaceful (C.H.A.M.P.) election on May 13.
The pledge and signing of their commitment ended the half-day coordinating meeting called by the Diocesan Electoral Board of the Diocese of Dumaguete, headed by Bishop Julito Cortes as honorary chair.
In his message, Cortes stressed the importance of coordination, noting that the coming election is for the common good and not just for a few. He thanked everyone for “responding to the call” of the DEB for the coordination conference.
He quoted Pope Francis as saying during the recent World Day for Peace that “politics should be at the service of peace.”
Attaining this, Cortes said, is not only the responsibility of political leaders but of every citizen. “I believe that is why we are gathered here,” he said.
“My prayer is that God will give us patience, perseverance and good health so that we may be able to carry out our commitment in this endeavor,” he said.
“We are here to ensure that the coming May 13, 2019 elections will be clean, honest, accurate, meaningful and peaceful,” he added.
Cortes expressed hope that the collaboration among DEB members will yield politicians, leaders of government and communities "who will be truly at the service of peace”.
Philippine National Police, Chief Insp. Jul Mohammad Jamiri, representing provincial police director Senior Supt. Raul Tacaca, said they will field thousands of police personnel for election duty.
“We are fully committed to supporting the national election, to give security to attain a peaceful and very safe election,” he said.
On the election watch list areas (EWAS) of concern, Jamiri said they still do not have the final list of the towns, cities, or barangays covered by it as it is the Regional Joint Security Control Center (RJSCC) 7 (Central Visayas) that will release the official list.
Nevertheless, he assured that they are prepared for any eventuality as they have already prepared a contingency plan for the mid-term elections.
Meanwhile, Lt. Col. Randy Pagunuran, commanding officer of the 94th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army based in Negros Oriental, said that the deployment of troops is “stretched” because they cover the entire province.
But, as in the previous elections, they are giving their full support to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the PNP, he said.
We may not be able to deploy troops to every polling center but whatever is agreed with the RJSCC, whether hotspot or area of concern, we will prioritize them," he said.
Pagunuran also said they can form a Quick Reaction Force to be able to respond to possible disruptions to the voting process.
On the other hand, the Department of Education (DepEd), represented by the schools’ division superintendent of Negros Oriental, Dr. Wilfreda Bongcales, vowed to provide the necessary workforce, mainly consisting of teachers, to serve on the electoral boards, also known as the Board of Inspectors.
“We have around 537 voting precincts in Negros Oriental and if we multiply that by the number of members in the electoral boards, (three members per board), so the teachers that will serve in the May 13 elections will be around 1,600,” she said.
“There is an extra law, Republic Act 10756, telling us that election duties all no longer be compulsory to the public school teachers but nevertheless, all or many of our teachers here still want to serve,” she said.
“Since time immemorial, the teachers have been the primary partners of Comelec, despite all odds and problems encountered in the past,” she said.
“I am also happy to know that the Diocesan Electoral Board is also very active here,” she added.
After the meeting and discussions of highlights, issues and concerns on the May polls, DEB members signed a “pledge of commitment” for a clean, honest, orderly and peaceful elections and together, they sang “Bayan Ko”.
Also present it the coordination meeting were Provincial Election Supervisor IV EliseoLabaria, Supt. George Badon, deputy provincial director for operations who led “Team NOPPO (Negros Oriental Police Provincial Office)”, Supt. Gregorio Galsim, OIC Dumaguete police chief, other sectoral representatives and the media.*PNA
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