The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) will begin certifying teachers who will compose the Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) for the May 13, 2019 mid-term elections this March.
This was announced by DOST-National Capital Region Director Jose B. Patalinjug III at the recent BusinessMirror CoffeeClub forum in Makati.
“There are about 172,000 teachers nationwide that have to be certified as BEIs. We will start the certification process by dispatching around 270 DOST personnel nationwide to conduct the process,” he said.
Patalinjug added that last week, DOST officials were at the Century Park Hotel with officials of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV).
“We had a chance to look at the new, reconfigured vote-counting machines,” he mentioned.
The DOST official said that their agency has begun its initial training of vote certifiers.
“We will be starting the certification process in March and before the end of March, we shall have finished all 172,000 BEIs,” Patalinjug said.
Science Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña said that the “DOST plays a crucial role in certifying the teachers who will do their election duty in precincts all over the country.”
The election automation law requires that at least one of every three members of the BEI be an IT-capable person, as certified by the DOST.
“This is the 4th time that the DOST has functioned as certifiers in the automated elections in the country,” De la Peña said, adding that the agency started this role in the 2010 elections, and again in the 2013, 2016, and this time, the 2019 elections.
The Science Secretary expressed confidence that Filipino scientists, in time, would be able to make their own automated counting and canvassing system.
“One of the dreams I have is to have a Filipino company provide the vote-counting machines. I already told Comelec that,” de la Peña said.
He added, however, that for this to be possible, the law on automated elections will need to be amended. “The law said that the company providing the vote-counting machines should have ‘international experience.’ So how can a Filipino company qualify if international experience is required?”
In 2010, information technology (IT) specialists from the DOST were trained by the Comelec on how to operate the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines. These trainings likewise included fundamental troubleshooting techniques.
The trained DOST IT personnel then echoed what they learned to teachers who were to function as BEIs in the elections. That year, some 407 Comelec-trained DOST specialists were tasked to certify teachers who qualified as BEIs.
A certification exam was conducted and teachers had to score at least 60% to qualify as a BEI. In 2010, each of the more than 76,000 clustered precincts had one cerified IT-capable BEI member.
Election 2016 paved the way for the use of the automated vote counting machine (VCM), replacing the PCOS machine. Additional trainings were conducted to familiarize teachers functioning as BEIs with the new machine.
That year, the DOST and the Comelec forged a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) stating that the DOST will ensure that at least one member of the BEIs in every voting clustered precinct has the necessary skills to operate the VCM.
The DOST was able to certify 165,268 BEIs as IT-capable. The number represented around 90% of the total number of BEIs that election year.
Comelec said, however, that it needed about 300,000 qualified BEI teachers to serve in the 2016 elections. G