Lasallians and the 2016 national and local elections

As a pioneer in pushing for honest and clean elections, the National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) ensures that honesty, transparency, and incorruptibility prevail during the election period. In the recent national and local Elections, the election watchdog organization sought volunteers to help monitor the strict voting procedures and ease cases of vote buying, Precinct Count Optical Scanners (PCOS) machine malfunctions, and voting inconsistencies, to name a few.

Volunteering for NAMFREL 1 - Agnes Lalog []

I volunteer!

Among those NAMFREL volunteers were Cheyenne Lim (IV, BSA), Pyrrus Sulit (II, AB-PSM), and alumna Shannen Dela Cruz (CS-ST, ’13).

Lim stated that the Lasallian Outreach and Volunteer Effort (LOVE) team was called by the Center for Social Action and Concern (COSCA) to participate in election-related activities, including volunteering, last May 9-10. The volunteers were given the option to choose which shift they preferred, between a shift from 6 am to 2 pm and from 2 pm to 10 pm.

The volunteers were situated in different teams with different tasks. Lim said that in her team, they received calls from different precincts in the country and were tasked to write reports on election irregularities. “[The next day], we were told to call back those who reported to confirm about the irregularities, whether they have been remedied, and what those remedies were. We also called the different precincts to ask whether they have submitted the [Election Results] for the [Random Manual Audit], and if not, [we asked] what the problem was,” she narrates. Sulit belonged to a team for the Mindanao precincts and was given a similar task. Dela Cruz, on the other hand, was instructed to encode the ballots given to her team.

Since the elections happened during the term break, Lim and Sulit took the opportunity to volunteer for NAMFREL. Moreover, Lim mentions that she had originally been interested in finding out what sort of election irregularities occurred during the elections. Sulit was inspired by the sense of duty to protect the mentality of having one true vote.

Meanwhile, Dela Cruz, who is not new to volunteering, expresses that it is the Filipino’s responsibility to be engaged in activities that concern the nation’s future. “I want people to feel that [the] Philippines needs every Filipino’s effort [in] building our nation, [similar to how] our body needs our every cell functioning,” she remarks.


Reality bites

Every Filipino wants a peaceful election, but it is out of the conversation here in the Philippines. Electoral frauds, vote buying, and other mishaps are just around the corner, which have all made it difficult to attain a clean election. Although volunteering for the strict election-monitoring is honorable, it is every bit of a struggle too. Lim remembers that while collecting the election results transmission, they kept calling the precincts while valuable time passed since they themselves were having a hard time with the process.

“Some say that they have not slept yet since the morning of May 9. Other areas, on the other hand, are short of volunteers,” Lim recounts her experience in collecting late election results. This alone exposes the truth that certain precincts lacked the mastery of practice.

Dela Cruz discussed vote buying, ballot anonymity, and voting processes. “What I can’t tolerate is vote buying, [and people] who think that the candidate who gave them money can serve them well.”

To continue ensuring free, orderly, and honest elections, the voting process indeed needs improvement. “There were inconsistencies with the policies all over the Philippines. I heard from my volunteer friend that the [Commission on Elections] officials didn’t know the process of sealing the ballots. I believe that strict implementation of the rules should be applied and all Comelec [officials] should know the process,” says Dela Cruz.

Volunteering for NAMFREL 2 - Agnes Lalog []

A calling to promote free and fair elections

The electoral process requires both systematic and organized supervision, seeing as the country’s future is at stake. To be exposed to various voting complications and finding ways to solve them in a short span of time proved to be a difficult experience for the volunteers. Nonetheless, it sprouted no fear for Lasallians to answer to NAMFREL’s scouting. Lim, Sulit, and Dela Cruz all say they would volunteer again if given another opportunity.

“I would volunteer again, if it means securing the votes of each individual and assuring the safety of voters,” shares Sulit, who believes that election watchdogs such as NAMFREL are vital to the elections, not just in the case of counting votes but also in assuring that the citizens’ votes are accounted for and honored.

For Lim, volunteering is always fulfilling. It didn’t matter to her that she got exhausted from the workload, because according to her, it was all worth it. Meanwhile, Dela Cruz expresses her desire to be a part of the process of declaring the next leaders of the country, which is why she regularly volunteers for NAMFREL.

These Lasallians proved that there are ordinary Filipinos working actively towards a peaceful election season. Their contributions under NAMFREL’s wing manifested how even the nine-hour shifts can be of great help in securing the future of our nation.

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