A number of volunteers from the Parish Youth Coordinating Council (PYCC) of Toledo City brought Election Returns (ER) of Toledo City to the operations center of the Cebu Citizen’s Involvement and Maturation in People Empowerment and Liberation (C-Cimpel) last Friday.
The youngsters, some even too young to vote, shared their experiences and motivation to go on election duty as poll watchers or C-Cimpel Voters Assistance Center volunteers.
Ruben Sucalit, an 18-year old Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education student, Gretchelle Famor, 17 and Rolando Nuezana, 15 were in the C-Cimpel main office in the San Carlos Seminary in barangay Mabolo, Cebu City to turn over ERs from Toledo City.
C-Cimpel fielded poll watchers in Cebu’s 3,169 polling precincts and also established Voting Assistance Centers in polling centers around Cebu.
C-Cimpel receives copies of the ERs in behalf of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) and the National Citizen’s Movement for Free Election (Namfrel).
Sucalit, said PYCC has 55 volunteers in C-Cimpel. He said they volunteered for election duties to do something productive this summer.
“We volunteered since we want to experience something that we have not yet done,” Sucalit said.
According to Sucalit, C-Cimpel poll watchers in Toledo City had a two-day training in April.
And young as they are, their were moments they became nervous during their election duty because of rumors circulating about troublemakers roaming around.
Sucalit, an ER collector and at the same time a poll watcher said: “Makuyawan ko sa kong experience as election returns collector kay ingon nila na kuyaw ang election karon kay although dili sya gubot, pero hilom kayo ang pamaagi.”
(I was afraid of my role as ER collector because some people said the election now is dangerous.)
These young men sacrificed their hours of sleep in order to be early during the election. Although you cannot see outward trouble, the election operators are doing their jobs silently.)
“We were already at the polling centers at 6 a.m. no matter how far the place would be, still we have to be there since it is our obligation,” Sucalit said.
Sucalit and his other friends worked from 6 a.m. last Monday until 5 a.m. the next day.
These young men although they were up the whole election period, never complained. “Dungan mi ug uli atong higayona and we were so hyper. Wala mi doula ug kakapoy. Naanad nasad mi tungod sa among pagka PYCC nadala na lang sad ang training and our pastor and parish church also were there to support us,” Famor said.
(We went home together still very energitic. We are used to it, because we were trained in the PYCC, and our pastor and parish were there to support us.)
Although Famor and Nuezana, were not yet of voting age, they were assigned at the Volunteer Assistance Center and were tasked to guide voters to their assigned voting precincts. “We were the ones who assisted the people where their respective precincts are. And because we have to engage with people, we should not be shy in facing them,” Famor said.
“We assisted the oldies and the pregnant women and we were the ones who were confronted by people who had complaints in finding their precincts,” she added.
Nuezana, the youngest of the group said: “Kung unsay nakat-onan namo sa seminar, na di mo tubay sa makiglalis kay C-Cimpel mi, among gi apply among na learn.” (We applied what we were taught, not to argue with voters.)
“Nakat-on ug pataas pasensya kay daghan lahi lahi ug batasan during election. Naay uban aborido kayo ang ulo during sa pag pangita sa names nila,” he said.
(We have learned to be patient because we dealt with people whose demeanors are different. There are those whose tempers are already high because of difficulty looking for their names.)
And still fresh from the challenging election duties, these youngsters are setting their sights on another task – serving in the Flores de Mayo.
“Kami nagdala sa Flores de Mayo. Naa pa mi trabaho sa church, pero gi sacrifice sa to namo para sa election. Gi-tunga namo among manpower para sa C-Cimpel and Flores de Mayo,” Nuezana said. (We were in charge of the Flores de Mayo. We just took off from that duty to serve the election.)
The youngsters said that they volunteered because they want to develop themselves in a way that they can be drawn near to God and become responsible citizens in our country.
The three said that as a volunteer, they had learned to be time-conscious since they were told to be early during the election.
People were already lining up in the precincts an hour before the election opened.
Christine Emily L. Pantaleon, Correspondent
Cebu Daily News