Straw Voting and Voters’ Education Forum at CFA

Mar 18th 2010

Do we WANNA CHANGE or WA NA CHANGE? This was the question posed to over 80 participants of the WANNA CHANGE Voters’ Education Forum held on March 16, 2010at the CFA Lagerwey Hall. The activity, dubbed, Usaping Halalan Para sa Kinabukasan ng Bayan, aimed to challenge the audience to be proactively involved in the upcoming elections.

One of the highlights of the event was the straw vote for president and vice-president, conducted at the beginning of the forum. The rear of the auditorium was made to look like an electoral precinct, complete with an old-fashioned ballot box, facsimiles of the actual ballot and individual voting tables, all guarded by in-house election officers.

A total of 80 votes were cast by the participating CFA staff and 13 guests from neighboring offices, but only 76 were valid as four ballots were considered spoiled and were not counted. The results were announced at the end of the forum. The Liberal Party candidates won overwhelmingly.

For president, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III garnered 55 votes (72%), Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro got 8 votes, Richard Gordon 4 votes, Manuel Villar 3 votes, JC de los Reyes 2 votes, Eddie Villanueva 2 votes, and Joseph Estrada 2 votes.

For Vice President, Mar Roxas got 49 votes (64%), Jejomar Binay 11 votes, Bayani Fernando 10 votes, Loren Legarda 3 votes, while Jun Chipeco and Perfecto Yasay got one vote each.

Opening the main program was the CFA president, Fr. Fil Pelingon, MSC, who recounted how he is touched and teary-eyed every time he sang the National Anthem when he was abroad. He urged the participants to stand proud that they are Filipinos. Terry Hermano, CFA Executive Director, explained CFA’s voters’ education projects in cooperation with the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting and the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines, and said that the same lessons on citizens’ rights and responsibilities should be learned by the CFA community and partners.

The keynote speaker was Mae Paner, the personality behind the satirical characters of Juana Change. Mae talked about her transition from a simple girl living a hand-to-mouth existence, to an advocate for change and social development, forming a group of reform-minded artists. She said that the first video produced by their group of artists was not on Juana Change, but on the National Anthem, and this gained popularity when uploaded on YouTube. She pointed out that one cannot really separate one’s personal life with the advocacy he or she represents. Mae also emphasized that no one is exempted from contributing for the betterment of the country. In fact, even the smallest effort can help a lot.

Atty. Howard Calleja, Legal Council of the PPCRV, followed with his video and talk on the duties and responsibilities of PPCRV volunteer poll watchers in the context of the first ever automated elections in the country. He explained how the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machine works and how results will be transmitted. He allayed people’s fears that there will be a failure of elections, stressing that the machines have been equipped with tight security features. He described various measures taken to avoid tabulation fraud and to prevent the tampering, hacking or tainting of election results. But he also underlined that everyone’s vigilance before, during and even after the elections is what would ultimately count.

The session ended with a challenge for the audience to be the change if they want change.

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