Voters know little of party-list system

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By Vicente Alejandro, VERA Files

Tacloban City-–A nominee of the An Waray party-list group said they have to work doubly hard to inform their constituents about party-list voting because they "seem to have low awareness about it.”

Rep. Neil Benedict Montejo. Photo by Vicente Alejandro/VERA Files

Rep. Neil Benedict Montejo, first nominee of the An Waray party-list, said they have to exert extra effort to educate people so they do not fall victim to misinformation being spread by some groups.

Based on Comelec records of the last election, Montejo said, there were about 2.4 million voters in Eastern Visayas but only 1.9 million cast their votes in 2010. Among those who voted, only about one million cast their vote for any party-list group.

This means about 900,000 had left blank the space for party-list on the ballot, he said.

“It's either they were already tired to fill up the preferred party-list group or they don't really know what party-list voting is,” he said.

Montejo disclosed that some supporters of other party-list groups are also misinforming voters in the region that they could vote for more than one party-list group.

“They ask the voter if he already has a preferred party-list group and when the voter answers he prefers An Waray, they would ask the same voter also to vote for their party-list group, saying that it is alright to vote more than one party-list,” he claimed.

More than one vote invalidates the vote for the party-list. “That's why we are emphasizing that voters must vote for only one party-list group,” he said.

Montejo said the An Waray, which has been in existence for about nine years, has been providing support to indigent Warays, either living in the region or in other places in the country, through medical-dental missions, financial assistance to indigents, a scholarship program, and seminars and training for the youth.

“When it comes to infrastructure, we will continue to give support to our airport rehab project. Once this project is completed this will boost the economy and the tourism industry,” he said.

The two other nominees of the An Waray party are Jude Acidre and Victoria Isabel Noel.

“We are here to serve the Warays,” Montejo said.

The people of the Eastern Visayan region, composed of the three Samar provinces, two Leyte provinces and Biliran province, are commonly called Warays. On its official website it says the term An Waray “is the term for 'ang mga wala' or those who have nothing or less in life.”

(VERA Files is put out by senior journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for "true.")

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