TRAINORS’ SEMINAR ON AES MONITORING: Before the end of 2015, the Coordinator of the PPCRV PCJ Chapter, Mr. Bobby del Castillo, received a notice from the PPCRV Diocesan Coordinator asking PPCRV-PCJ to send volunteers to attend a two-day seminar on January 6-7 2016 at the PPCRV Headquarters at the Pope Pius Center in United Nations Avenue, Manila. After consulting with Assistant Coordinator Mr. Gardy Lerios, a delegation composed of the e coordinator, the assistant coordinator, Mr. Romy Bordallo, and Mr. Mark Vincent Santos was formed.
There were two aspects of poll-watching that were the focus of the seminars: the education and the monitoring aspects. Originally, it was the intention of the delegation to divide themselves into two groups to attend both aspects of poll watching. However, since Mr. del Castillo already attended an earlier seminar focused on education and received relevant materials, it was incumbent on the group to attend and focus on the se
minar on poll monitoring.
The need to monitor the elections as well the need for volunteers was substantiated by startling facts:
- The May 9, 2016 elections will be shorter by two (2) hours and will be from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. in accordance with a recent announcement of the COMELEC.
- An estimated 55,000,000 registered voters will participate.
- The voters will be distributed to 90,000 clustered precincts.
- The precincts will be located in 37,000 polling places.
In PCJ, there were 17 clustered precincts during the last elections. This number is expected to rise since the COMELEC intends to assign 800 voters only to each precinct. At this rate, there will be at least 13,600 voters at the polling place — the Rotary Gym – located across the parish. Previous experience indicates that there will be overcrowding during election day. Although a request was filed with the Paranaque Election Officer requesting the transfer certain precincts to the BF Northwest Gym to minimize congestion, it was indicated by reliable sources that the request will not be acted upon on time. It thus appears that the PPCRV-PCJ faces a gargantuan task because of space limitations.
The Automated Election System (AES) will feature the Vote Counting Machine (VCM), formerly known as the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machine. The new machine is purportedly bigger and has stronger encryption than its predecessor (256 bit vs. 128 bit Symmetric key strength on the new machine). The ballot that will be used will have security features such that ballots intended for one precinct cannot be used in another precinct. The final testing and sealing of the machines is scheduled on April 20, 2016. The PPCRV-PCJ team is currently assembling a team of volunteers who have the necessary IT exposure to assist them in ensuring that they are able to carry out their mission – to assist the COMELEC in bringing about a Clean, Honest, Accurate, Meaningful and Peaceful (CHAMP) election.
-Bobby del Castillo, PPCRV-PCJ Coordinator