Sunday, May 13, 2007

VforCE prays for honest and clean elections

Namfrel QC gathers for final preparations

by Ayee D. Macaraig

WITH TWO days left to prepare for the polls, hundreds of election volunteers gathered on Saturday not to train as usual, but to pray for honest and peaceful elections.

“We are here because we are committed [as volunteers] in doing what we can to make sure that these elections are honest, responsible, and peaceful,” said Jesuit Provincial Fr. Daniel Patrick Huang, SJ, during the mass organized by the Volunteers for Clean Elections (VforCE).

The mass, which invitations said was for “peace, vigilance, and commitment,” was held at the Ateneo High School (AHS) Covered Courts.

Volunteers from various VforCE groups such as the National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) and the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) attended the mass.

Also present were volunteers from the National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace (NASSA), Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan (SLB), and the Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE).

The mass was intended to collectively “send forth” the VforCE volunteers in their mission of civic engagement for Philippine democracy.

VforCE is a nationwide movement that aims to gather one million volunteers to protect the integrity of the elections, to fight fraud and violence, and to work for long-term change.

“Inspirited volunteers”

Huang said that although there are forces ready to cheat, deceive, and exploit Filipinos in the elections, there is also a spirit that moves against darkness. This, he said, is the Holy Spirit.

“Our volunteers are inspiring, or perhaps better, ‘inspirited’ volunteers, men and women filled with God’s spirit to commit, love, and serve our country,” he said.

Kailangan tayo ng bayan. Kailangan ng mga taong haharap sa puwersa ng kabuktutan. Kailangan ng mga Pilipinong handang magbantay at maglingkod upang ang demokrasya ay maitaguyod (The nation needs us. The nation needs people to face the force of evil. Filipinos who are ready to guard and serve to pursue democracy are needed),” Huang added.

Huang also said that the candles lit at the end of the mass symbolize light in the darkness, and the flame of love for nation.

“[The peace that Jesus gives] does not mean that things will be well without much effort, dedication, [and] sacrifice from us. Much will be demanded of us in the coming days, indeed, in the coming years as we prepare for 2010,” Huang said.

“Better to light a candle”

Namfrel Quezon City (QC) Chairman Don Rapadas also explained the meaning of the candle-lighting during the Namfrel QC final general assembly (GA), which was held before the VforCE mass.

Rapadas said that people see the May 14 elections as bitter and heavily contested, and is predicted to be marred by massive cheating. “[Yet], instead of complaining, we choose to see what is positive.”

The motto of Namfrel since its creation in 1984 is, “It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.”

In the GA, volunteers for both poll-watching and the quick count were reminded of their tasks and the protocols to be followed.

Namfrel QC district chairpersons Angela Ferreria (AB Eu ’05), Leah Andal, Japs Simpas, and Joseph Quesada (AB MEco ’02) gave final reminders. Quesada is the executive director of the Ateneo Alumni Association (AAA).

The chairpersons said that they are still in need of volunteers for poll-watching and the quick count. They will accept volunteers until May 13.

Vice Chair for Tabulation Boyet Dy (AB DS ’06), meanwhile, explained the transmission of election returns from the precincts to the Ateneo, and the tabulation of votes.

Ateneo is the venue for Namfrel QC’s operation quick count.

Love for country

Sr. Annabelle Diaz, OP, mother superior of the Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Sienna, attended the GA. Every elections, she volunteers for poll-watching in QC District 1.

“We have to safeguard our votes because [they are] the will of the people. If we don’t protect [them], that is against our conscience. And as [Filipinos], we are responsible for our votes,” she said.

Sr. Fe Suberon, OP, who is also a poll-watching volunteer, said that she volunteered because she loves her country and has to protect it.

“We are the [largest] Catholic country in Asia [but we still have a very] negative image. [Even if I have lots of work to do], I will forego it because of my country,” she said.

Zenaida Toicino from the Gawad Kalinga (GK)-Licad community in QC said that she also volunteered for poll-watching in District 2 to help avoid cheating in the elections, and to ensure that the elections will be peaceful.

Functions and Powers of Your Public Officials

Compiled by the Web Staff

Congress (Senate, House of Representatives, Party-lists)

  1. to create new laws and amend or repeal old ones
  2. to amend the Constitution by convening as a Constitutional Assembly
  3. to propose the annual national budget, as well as taxes and other measures to generate revenue
  4. to conduct investigations in aid of legislation
  5. for Senators, to attend to the needs of the entire Philippine population
  6. for members of the House of Representatives, to attend to the needs of the people in their respective congressional districts
  7. for the party-list representatives, to familiarize the electorate with the platforms and programs for the marginalized sectors of society

Provincial Governor

  1. to exercise general supervision and control over all programs, projects, services and activities of the provincial government including:

initiating and proposing legislative measures to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan,

representing the province in all its business transactions,

determining the time, manner and place of payment of salaries or wages of the officials and employees of the province,

visiting component cities and municipalities of the province at least once every 6 months, and

authorizing payment for medical cares, necessary transportation, subsistence, hospital or medical fees of provincial officials and employees.

  1. a) to enforce all laws and ordinances relative to the governance of the province,

b) to enforce the exercise of the appropriate corporate powers, and

c) to implement all approved policies, programs, projects, services and activities of the province such as:

calling conventions, conferences, seminars or meetings of all officials of the province,

formulating the peace and order plan of the province including its implementation upon approval, and

calling upon the appropriate national law enforcement agencies to suppress disorder, riot, lawless violence, rebellion or sedition or to apprehend violators of the law.

  1. to initiate and maximize the generation of resources and revenues particularly those programmed for agro-industrial development and country-wide growth and progress
  1. to ensure the delivery of basic services and the provision of adequate facilities

Provincial Vice-Governor

  1. to be the presiding officer of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and to sign all warrants drawn on the provincial treasury for all the expenditures appropriated for the operation of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan
  1. to subject to civil service law and rules and regulations as well as to appoint all officials and employees of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan
  1. to assume the office of the governor for the unexpired term of the latter in the event of permanent vacancy
  1. to exercise the powers and to perform the duties and functions of the governor in cases of temporary vacancy


  1. to hold office in the city hall during his incumbency
  2. to exercise general supervision and control over all programs, projects, services, and activities of the provincial government (e.g., determining guidelines, directing the formulation of plans, proposing laws, directing programs, appoint officials and employees, carry out emergency measures, etc. )

a. to work closely with the Sangguniang Panlalawigan

b. to be responsible for determining the salaries of the city’s officials, as well as allocating and assigning their offices, ensuring that they faithfully discharge their duties with respect to the law, examining their books, records, and documents and authorizing their official trips outside the city,

c. to work closely with the barangay officials and to make it a point to visit the barangays in the city at least once every six months in order to understand their problems and present conditions,

d. to authorize payment for medical care and for other fees of the city officials and employees if they are injured while in the performance of their official duties (subject to the availability of funds

  1. to enforce all laws and ordinances relative to the governance of the city and in the exercise of the appropriate corporate powers and implementation of all policies, projects, etc.

a. to ensure that the acts of the city’s barangay officials are done accordingly,

b. to call conventions, meetings, seminars in order to discuss the city’s current condition,

c. to issue orders for the appropriate enforcement and execution of laws and ordinances,

d. to act as a representative of the National Police Commission, formulating peace and order in the realm of the city by calling upon enforcement agencies in case riots break out, etc.

  1. to initiate and maximize resources and revenues, as well as the implementation of development plans, program objectives and priorities as provided for the agro-industrial development and countryside
  2. to ensure the delivery of basic services and the provision of adequate facilities


  1. to be the presiding officer of the Sangguniang Panlungsod and to sign all warrants drawn on the city treasury
  2. to be subject to civil service law, rules, and regulations and to appoint all officials and employees of the Sangguniang Panlungsod
  3. to exercise the powers and perform the duties and functions of the city mayor in cases of temporary vacancy


  1. to enact ordinances, approve resolutions and appropriate funds for the general welfare of the city and its inhabitants as member of the legislative body of the city, the Sangguniang Panlungsod
  1. to approve ordinances and pass resolutions necessary for an efficient and effective city government
  1. to generate and maximize the use of resources and revenues for the development plans, program objectives and priorities of the city with particular attention to agro-industrial development of city-wide growth and progress
  1. to enact ordinances granting franchises and authorizing the issuance of permits or licenses, upon such conditions and for such purposes intended to promote the general welfare of the inhabitants of the city
  1. to regulate activities relative to the use of land, buildings and structures within the city in order to promote general welfare
  1. to approve ordinances which shall ensure the efficient and effective delivery of the basic services and facilities


Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan. “Powers, Duties and Functions of your Local Government Officials: An Overview” (

Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan. “Know more about the party-list system.” (

Republic Act No. 7160

“Deciding tomorrow’s leaders”. The GUIDON. March 2007. p. 9.