Gabay Halalan 2010: A Call and Text Center that provides unbiased information on elections
Electoral contestation in the Philippines has been consistently described to be one that is essentially personality-based where individual popularity and campaign spending of candidates matter more rather than real political platform and clear cut political agenda that will benefit the people. As a result of this, political clans have been deeply entrenched in our political system.
The voters in general had been consistently clamoring for candidates who have stand on crucial issues that really matter most. But one of the major impediments to the desire of the people to elect candidates that genuinely embodies those aspirations is the lack of access to credible and relevant information. Most of the time, voters tend to choose candidates whom they know by name rather than by their background, stand on issues, platform and track record.
Disenfranchisement of voters is also prevalent in the Philippines due to the fact that most of the time, voters do not know exactly where their precincts are. By law, the list of registered voters should be posted by the Comelec long before the day of the elections but most of the time, this is not being fulfilled.
Given this backdrop, one crucial realization is the prime importance of effective dissemination of unbiased, free, credible and relevant information pertaining to elections.
It is in this context that the Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan in partnership with Life Academy pursue to set-up and revitalize call-center operations called Gabay Halalan 2010.
What Gabay-Halalan 2010 aims to achieve is to provide free, accessible, relevant, and unbiased information about the elections to Filipino voters wherever they are—including the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs). Gabay Halalan 2010 handles a nationwide operations with the help of friendly tele-educators who promote active citizenship and provide Filipinos (especially youth employed in call centers) an opportunity to be involved in the electoral and political exercise.
Tele-educations and the whole Gabay Halalan operations provide substantive and procedural information regarding the elections - what the voters should bring to the precinct, where precinct is and how to find it, what the voting times are, the actual voting process, and how to be vigilant and safeguard the electoral process. Gabay Halalan also maintains a database of all candidates—their biographical profiles, stand on issues, platforms, and issue’s linked to them. It also have an information on Overseas Absentee Voters (OAVs), partylists, information on elective positions in local elections, how to volunteer to organizations working to safeguard our elections, and where to obtain free legal assistance in relation to electoral conduct and issues. Another major element of the Gabay Halalan is giving people a venue to report cases of election violations. The tele-educators document each report and try to validate this with the aid of the members of the other election-watchdogs on the ground. Once the report of election violation is verified, Gabay halalan conveys the information to the proper authorities for immediate action and response.
The service is especially helpful to people who do not have access to the Internet, don’t understand English or cannot read. Callers are attended to by live persons at the other end of the line. The whole idea behind the call center operations is to really empower the voters by providing them with relevant election information. If an enlightened electorate is what is needed to attain positive political change, then those who need enlightenment and voters’ education the most must have easy access to relevant election information on demand for free. A toll-free call center with sound database and friendly call agents can handle that. The main message that the Gabay Halalan national operations would like to convey is the fact that regardless of the voters / citizens’ background, whether you’re a professional, a youth, a senior citizen, an illiterate person or maybe someone who just wants to know more about the elections, just dial 101-49 (PLDT) and let Gabay-Halalan help you. The vote of each and every one of us matters and we need to have relevant and credible information before we can make an informed decision in exercising our right of suffrage.