Kudos to PPCRV and to new SC Justice Inting
Like the Commission on Elections (Comelec), the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Philippine National Police, the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) and its half-a-million volunteers deserve the nation’s gratitude for helping assure orderly and peaceful elections.
The PPCRV and its volunteers served without compensation and perks (except modest meal and transportation allowances) because of their selfless desire to safeguard our democracy. They patiently endured the summer heat, the tongue-lashing of frustrated voters and the bashing of social media and the losing candidates.
In contrast, under the law, the teachers who acted as Election Board (EB) chairs received an honoraria of P6,000 each; EB members — P5,000 each; DepEd supervising officers (Deso)—P4,000 each; and Deso staff — P2,000 each. The Comelec officials and PNP officers on duty got equivalent compensations.
As an election watchdog, the PPCRV originally had two objectives: (1) to conduct voter education nationwide and (2) poll-watching in every election precinct. However, in this year’s polls, it was given two more responsibilities: (3) random manual audit and (4) parallel count of the votes.
The PPCRV was born 28 years ago in 1991 as the Catholic laity’s response to the challenge of the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP II) urging lay leaders to help preserve our democracy.
Traditionally, “lawmaking” in the Catholic Church was reserved exclusively to the hierarchy. But PCP II ushered a momentous first in the Church’s 2,000-year history: The laity was invited by the hierarchy to participate in legislating and in implementing in the Philippines the reforms of the Second Vatican Council or Vatican II.
Led by Henrietta “Tita” T. De Villa, our former ambassador to the Vatican, 145 lay leaders actively took part in the daily 12-hour sessions of the PCP II at the San Carlos Lay Formation Center in Makati from Jan. 20 to Feb. 17, 1991. And led also by Tita as national chair, the lay faithful—encouraged by the late Jaime Cardinal Sin—organized PPCRV.
(Disclosure: From among the PCP II lay delegates, I was chosen PPCRV’s national vice chair and chief legal counsel until 1995, when I joined the Supreme Court.)
Though Catholic in origin, PPCRV remained nonpartisan during the 1992 presidential election when Fidel V. Ramos, a Protestant, was one of the seven candidates for president.
Opposed by some Catholic organizations, priests and bishops, Ramos nonetheless won. But he captured only 23.58 percent of the votes, with a plurality of only 874,348 over his closest rival. Yet, our people accepted his victory because, according to Ramos himself, it was validated by an independent and credible PPCRV.
After retiring in 2016, Tita was succeeded by former Comelec commissioner Rene Sarmiento who, for health reasons, resigned in August 2018. Last November, the presidency was passed on to Myla C. Villanueva.
Though she took over rather late in the election season, Villanueva proved to be a perfect fit for PPCRV. Prodigious and computer-savvy, she knew the intricacies of the automated election system, and explained them eloquently. The reward for good work is more work, and I think she is ready to tackle more work in the digital election age.
Congratulations to Justice Henri Jean Paul B. Inting, the newest addition to the Supreme Court. Though still a junior member of the Court of Appeals when elevated days ago, he nonetheless had much longer years in the bench than many of his former colleagues.
He rose from the lowest rungs of the judicial ladder, from the Metropolitan Trial Court, to the Regional Trial Court, to the Court of Appeals and finally to the highest court of the land. He left his appellate docket with no backlog, and will surely be helpful in trimming the high court’s case congestion.
His co-nominees need not despair. This year alone, there are four more vacancies to be filled with the retirement of Justices Mariano C. Del Castillo (July 29), Francis H. Jardeleza (Sept. 26), Antonio T. Carpio (Oct. 26) and CJ Lucas P. Bersamin (Oct. 18). In fact, a fifth vacancy will arise if Bersamin is replaced by an insider.
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