Sunday, May 6, 2007

Attendance in quick count GA higher than expected

by Ojie L. Ocampo

“OVERWHELMING” WAS how Don Rapadas, Quezon City (QC) chairman of the National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel), described the volunteer turnout for the first quick count general assembly (GA).

The 680 volunteers who attended the GA on April 16 filled all of the seats in Escaler Hall, with some people having to sit on the floor and outside the hall.

The GA briefed volunteers on the quick count of the QC votes, a project that the Loyola Schools (LS) heads in cooperation with Namfrel to check the accuracy of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) vote count.

The quick count, also known as Bantay Bilang, will be held from May 14 to 20 at the Manuel V. Pangilinan Center for Student Leadership (MVP-CSL) and at Faura Hall.

Joanna Beatrice Gomez (III BS Psy), volunteer support head for the quick count, said that the GA attendance was double the expected 250 to 300 people.

“Stepping up”

Gomez said that she is grateful to the volunteers for stepping up. She added that it is enlightening to know that the youth, the future of the country, still have a drive for volunteering.

Rapadas also said, “I think [that the turnout] is a manifestation that [the volunteers] still have hope and that they still believe that they can still make a difference, and make their vote make a difference in the coming elections.”

Having the chance to make a difference is the main reason Gomez cited to explain the GA attendance. “I think the thought that nandiyan iyong opportunity na makakatulong ka (there is an opportunity to help) to the bigger nation is very enticing.”

Alexandra Filipina Orosa (IV AB IS) said that even if she is not a registered voter, she volunteered for the quick count to help in some way.

Eryn Gayle De Leon (II BS ES), another volunteer, said that the quick count is a step to ending the corruption and dishonesty in the country’s electoral system. “It especially empowers the youth with the ability to change the society which they constantly lambast.”

De Leon also said that the efforts of the Sanggunian ng mga Mag-aaral (Sanggu) to organize the quick count have been successful. “It’s great to see a socially active student council.”

The Sanggu started organizing election-related projects last school year with its “Reg2Vote” campaign, which encouraged students to register to vote in the elections. Reg2Vote won the Most Outstanding Project Award in the 2007 LS Awards for Leadership and Service (LSALS).

“Still not enough”

Gomez said that as of press time, there are over 1,000 volunteers listed in the quick count’s database, 661 of which already have shifts. She also said that the volunteers are mostly Ateneans.

Rapadas and Gomez added that despite the good attendance in the GA, the volunteer turnout is still not enough to reach the target 2,736 tabulation volunteers. This number is needed if each volunteer is to have only one shift.

“[But] I know that Ateneans are very eager [and] zealous about these things so I’m sure they will commit to more than one shift [to] make up for the lack in number,” said Rapadas.

When asked regarding probable reasons for just an average response, Gomez said that vacation and summer classes hinder people from volunteering.

Rapadas, meanwhile, said that practicality is a factor affecting volunteerism for the entire QC chapter. “Some people have become more practical as to choose kung ano iyong may bayad (whatever it is that has pay).”

Both Gomez and Rapadas agreed that the existence of other organizations divides the volunteer base and therefore lessens the potential quick count volunteers.

Rallying for more

“[Volunteers must] see the work that they are doing as something that will contribute to the history of Ateneo—that once in 2007, we have made sure that we value so much our right to suffrage, and truth and honesty,” said Rapadas.

People can still volunteer for the quick count by sending their contact information and desired shifts to or by joining Gomez said that walk-in volunteers are also welcome.

with a report from Yeni C. Raboca

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