PPCRV opens command center; to deploy 300,000 volunteers on May 13

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 08 2019 05:11 PM

MANILA – Election watchdog Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) opened its command center at the Pope Pius compound in Manila on Wednesday, 5 days before Monday’s midterm polls.

PPCRV Chair Emeritus Henrietta De Villa, Chair Myla Villanueva and Executive Director Maribel Buenaobra led the unveiling of the command center at the 3rd floor of the Pope John XXIII Hall.

Also present during the short program were Commission on Elections Commissioners Luie Guia and Marlon Casquejo as well as Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez.

The command center will house "a hundred computers," several phone lines for PPCRV volunteers and 3 big LED screens where results of PPCRV’s unofficial parallel count will be flashed, officials said. 

PPCRV will be receiving transmissions of results through its transparency server and compare these results with the 4th copy of election returns which its volunteers nationwide will secure from the Comelec.

At Pope Pius alone, 3 sets of 100 volunteers will be needed to encode election returns day and night.

Villanueva expressed confidence that PPCRV's 300,000 volunteers nationwide would be enough to address the needs in more than 85,000 clustered precincts in 36,000 voting centers all over the country.

This even while this number is half of the poll watchdog’s 600,000 volunteers in the 2016 presidential elections.

“300,000 volunteers is quite a large number. If the number is not enough, the spirit is very strong,” Villanueva told reporters at a press conference shortly after the unveiling of the command center.

The poll watchdog also downplayed possible power and technical issues.

De Villa said Meralco has assured them that there would be no power failure during the elections and the days to follow. 

“We have a team of engineers and electricians so there will be no power failure, no overtripping. We have generators. To assure you, we've never experienced power failure since 2010,” she said.

In 2016, PPCRV’s transparency server stationed at Pope Pius became controversial when the camp of vice presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos alleged that he lost his lead over Vice President Leni Robredo after Smartmatic changed the script in the transparency server.

Marcos eventually lost the race by some 260,000 votes and is contesting the results before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal.

PPCRV insisted the change was merely “cosmetic” as it was meant to change a question mark in the name of one of the senatorial candidates to the letter “Ñ.”

The 28-year-old parish-based watchdog has been Comelec’s citizen arm conducting an unofficial parallel count since the 2010 elections.

MEDIA COVERAGE

Meanwhile, the PPCRV revised guidelines for this year’s media coverage.

Media personnel will no longer be allowed to stay at the balcony level of the Pope John XXIII Hall overlooking the PPCRV command center due to building integrity issues brought about by the recent earthquake.

Instead, only robotic cameras will be installed in the balcony and the media will be given 2 holding rooms just outside the command center.

PPCRV is also limiting the number of persons inside the command center to 250 at any given time, still because of building integrity issues.