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Voter worries ahead of Philippine polls

MANILA (UCAN): The Parish Pastoral Council of Responsible Voting, a Church-based poll watchdog in the Philippines, is pressing for intensified education of voters ahead of village (barangay) and youth council election on May 14 in which old-fashioned manual balloting will be used.
The council made the call following the outcome of a rehearsal in mid-April, where the Commission on Elections reported that voters had mixed up ballots.
Monsignor Hernando Coronel of the archdiocese of Manila, “We have to guide them as there might be a confusion,” adding that there is still a need to educate and acquaint voters with the manual system.
“This might confuse some voters who have been used to just shading the name of a candidate in automated elections,” he said.
Filipinos are expected to troop to polling stations next month to elect the heads and members of village councils and members of youth councils in 42,028 villages across the country.
Monsignor Coronel pointed out that voters, especially those who will be electing youth council members and village leaders, should be guided properly.
There are three categories of voters: those only voting for the youth council, those only voting for village leaders and those voting for both.
People will vote for one village chief and seven village council members, while youth voters will also elect one youth council chief and seven youth council members.
Voters aged between 18 and 30-years-old will vote in both village and youth council elections.
Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga, north of Manila, reminded people to choose “Godly leaders” who are “pro-country, pro-environment and pro-people.”
In a special prayer for the elections, the bishop said voters should elect candidates “with a mind who will listen to (God’s) voice and follow his ways.”
Bishop Santos said the Philippines needs (leaders with) “servant hearts” who will always put the welfare of the country before their own.
More than a million people are looking to stand in next month’s elections, according to the Commission on Elections.
The last village and youth council polls were held in October 2013, so incumbent officials have been in office for nearly five years.
Congress deferred the elections twice due to the assertion by the president, Rodrigo Duterte, that 40 per cent of all village officials were involved in the illegal drug trade. 

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