DAVAO CITY—People living in areas devastated by Typhoon “Pablo” in Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental will be casting their votes inside huge tents used as temporary learning spaces instead of classrooms, according to the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
With less than a month before election day, the Comelec said the residents would be able to exercise their right to vote without any trouble, using the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines.
Pablo wrecked many schools and toppled power lines when it struck the two provinces on Dec. 4 last year.
Comelec Regional Director Wilfred Jay Balisado said he had already requested the agency’s central office to send 242 generator sets to be used in areas where electricity is not yet restored.
Although the PCOS machines have batteries that last 16 hours, the generator sets would ensure a more stable source of power that may also be utilized for lighting, charging and electric fans, he said,
Balisado, however, appealed to local government units (LGUs) to also help make the elections successful by installing electric outlets in the polling precincts. He stressed that the local government was mandated to assist the Comelec.
Out of the 3,501 PCOS machines intended for the Davao region, 529 will be delivered to Compostela Valley and 434 to Davao Oriental. A total of 1,700 machines have already arrived in the region.
The Comelec also gave assurance that there would be no issues on the transmission of data.
“Smartmatic reported that there would be no problems. If ever there would be difficulty in the transmission, we also have the satellite. As long as there is signal, then we will have no problems,” Balisado said.
In areas with intermittent mobile network services, the poll official said the election teams could transfer to places with a more stable signal or transport the compact flash (CF) card to the poblacion area.
The CF card can be inserted to another machine in the poblacion for transmission, Balisado said. He explained that a back-up CF card would remain inside the PCOS machine that would serve as a means to countercheck in case of electoral protest involving the transport of the card.
Public school teachers in Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley are working double time to prepare for the elections, the Department of Education (DepEd) said.
“There will be no problem with the teachers. We are always ready and we are always happy to help,” DepEd regional spokesperson Jenelito Atillo said.
The teachers are confident that they will be able to perform their duties well after years of experience in facilitating the polls, but they are apprehensive on the stability of facilities on actual voting, he said.
“We trust the Comelec to resolve issues so that everything will go smoothly on election day,” Atillo said. He asked the Comelec to install dividers inside the tents so there will be order on May 13.
Balisado urged the LGUs to heed the appeal of the DepEd, adding that there were engineers and laborers in their employ.
“The spirit of volunteerism is always there. We only need to create the spark necessary for everyone to move,” he said.
All election-related training activities were undertaken by both the Comelec and the DepEd as early as April 5.