Voter’s Ed in Chontog and in the Copper Town of the Philippines

This Friday, August 20, 2021, for our Election Day segment at RNG Luzon’s Balitaktakan, we will be having two special guests from the Commission on Elections, Benguet, the Election Officer of Atok, Mr. Alexander D. Penrad and the Election Officer of Mankayan, Mr. Ray Marty I. Gattud. Both election officers who are would-be lawyers, will be discussing their respective voter’s education programs in their areas of jurisdiction.

A little bit of history…during the Spanish occupation, Atok was referred to as “Chontog, “ an Ibaloi term meaning ‘mountainous’. Atok comes from the Ibaloi phrase “Nay patok shi Chontog” which means ‘On the mountain top.’ When shortened, it is already known as Atok, a municipality of Benguet. Because of its high elevation, certain areas in Atok experience “andap” or frost, this occurs, when the temperature in the area drops to below 10 degrees Celsius. In this cold but pristine place, Mr. Penrad, a young, intelligent, warm, and easy to work with kind of person, conducts voter’s information by always coordinating with the Local Government Unit (LGU) of Atok. In every barangay, it is held in a sitio (purok) to avoid overcrowding. Whenever he conducts Voter’s Ed, it is always through lectures on the procedure of registration including the latest rules and programs of the Comelec. This is made twice a day, covering 2 sitios, two times in a month. The LGU of Atok has always been very cooperative, as a
matter of fact, they give out free face masks every time there is a voter’s ed activity.

Whenever there is a satellite registration, Voter’s Ed is made in close coordination with the Municipal health Office and other concerned agencies. And if there are meetings with the different barangays, Mr. Penrad always takes a chance to announce, in coordination with the DILG and other departments of the LGU, about the latest programs of the Comelec. Atok has 10,777 registered voters, 74 precincts and 8 barangays.

The municipality of Mankayan, on the other hand, has a total of 19,334 registered voters with 12 Barangays and 132 precincts. In the past, Mankayan was a forested area, rich in malleable rocks. The hunters, of long ago, were surprised to find out that the fire they built to cook their food had rocks that were not as hard as the usual rocks that they have encountered, and so, they decided to bring the rocks with them. When the hunters were asked were they got such rocks, they said it came from the forest of Nangkayang which means, ‘way up to the eastern mountains’. Nangkayang eventually became Mankayan, the first class municipality that we know today that produces copper. Voter’s Ed is also conducted whenever there is a scheduled satellite registration in the area. Mr. Gattud, our Election Officer, the eligible bachelor, and an impromptu speaker, is a craft master in conducting voter’s education. He uses different methods in delivering his election-related topics to the public. From the use of a projector, a microphone or sound system announcing election-related matters in the municipal premises, attending meetings, and to the distribution of flyers, he never fails to include the usual topics on reactivation and transfer of registration as well as the latest pronouncements on Gender and Development, Know Elections Better – for SK registrants and Women in Elections.

The municipalities of Chontog and Copper Town are far away places, yet, just like these areas that are on top of the mountain, our Election officers, Mr. Penrad and Mr. Gattud are always on top of their game in conducting quality Voter’s Ed in the province of Benguet.

Let us find out more about their innovative methods in reaching the public concerning election matters and how they will go about with the procedures in the new normal, especially in the filing of certificates of candidacy this coming October. Watch us on Regional News Group Luzon at 9:00 o’clock in the morning this coming Friday. See you there.

****Any opinion/s or statements in this article are made by me in my personal capacity as a lawyer and
not as an employee of the Comelec.



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