Patient at all Times
Volume XVIII NO. 1 (October 11-17, 2014)
He does good and avoids evil. In everything he does, he sees to it that he does not step on other people, thus, avoiding confrontations and disagreements.
A lawyer by profession, he is Atty. Julius D. Torres, the Director of the Commission on Elections for the Cordillera Administrative Region since 2009. He was born on July 17, 1974 in Baguio City from a father who is from Laguna and who worked in Itogon, Benguet and a mother from Tayug, Pangasinan. At forty years of age, he has two children with his wife Dr. Maria Alice P. Torres of La Trinidad who is a University physician at the Benguet State University.
After three years from public school in his elementary years, Atty. Torres pursued his Grades 5 and 6 of his elementary, his high school, and his college degrees at the Saint Louis University in Baguio City.
“Since high school, I did not envision any other job. My parents suggested to me to pursue my major in Law. Since then, it got stuck on my mind. In 1994, I finished my major in Political Science for my Pre-Law. Between 1995 and 1998, I took my major in Law and graduated in 1999. Covering the same year, I took and passed the BAR exams”, narrated Atty. Torres.
Prior to his entrance at COMELEC-CAR, he worked as an instructor at the Saint Louis University’s College of Commerce for three semesters. In October of 1999, he applied and was employed at the commission since then. In 2005, he was promoted as an Assistant Regional Director and in 2009, he was designated as the Regional Director for COMELEC-CAR.
As the Regional Director for COMELEC-CAR, Atty. Torres’ main functions are supervising over all administration; governing election laws; and conducting supervision within his jurisdiction in CAR. Some of his assignments in the country concerning election matters were in 2013, when he was assigned in Region 2; in 2005, when he was assigned in Maguindanao as a special action officer; in 2008, when he was assigned in Sulu province during the ARMM election; in 2012, when he was assigned in Marawi City and Lanao City for general registration in ARMM; and in 1999, when he was sent to Lucena City for its city-hood. Besides this, he was also sent outside the country in April 2011 in Seoul, South Korea and in December 2012 when he was sent to Washington D.C in the US to observe the US elections.
In 2010, Atty. Torres witnessed and experienced first hand the very first implementation of the automated system of voting, counting, and releasing of results with the aid of the PCOS machine.
“I was lucky to had observed and experienced both the manual and the automated systems of elections,”
he said. Comparing disparity between the systems, Atty. Torres, affirmed that electoral fraud from counting to canvassing of votes had been practically eliminated with the use of the PCOS machines. It was overall better compared to that of the manual system of voting. In the manual system, capacity of the person in charge for the accuracy is influenced by his or her physiological and psychological state if he or she is sleepy, tired, stressed, threatened, and all while with the PCOS machines, even if they are threatened, the details and the results do not change and are kept intact. Even the DEPED people preferred the PCOS machines over the manual system. And the dagdag bawas, was very much possible with the manual system. Although, lots of allegations of dagdag bawas was imputed to the PCOS machine system, there had not been any evidence brought out upon by the accusers, explained Atty. Torres.
This is ascribed to the political maturity of the Filipinos. In very election, there are two outcomes for a candidate- the winner and the loser. When one losses during elections, the unlucky candidates don’t trust the system even it is credible and accurate primarily because of personal ambitions over the reflected reality of the result. No candidate concedes, the sad part is they cannot prove whether and indeed there was fraud and/or cheating was committed along the election process, related Atty. Torres.
“Over the years, peace and order in the Cordillera during election times are improving”, said Atty. Torres. In Abra it had been two times of election that isolated election related deaths occurred coinciding the use of the automated system compared to the manual election that was held in 2007 where most number of casualties were recorded and eighteen army men were ambushed in the province. In my onion, poverty and the lack of livelihood were the reason for the killings. People involved on this gruesome activities engage in politics mainly served as supporters and private armies to the politicians. But in 2010 and 21013, no single casualty in Abra had been reported with the help of the PNP, army, and non-government organizations and likewise this could be attributed to the progress that is taking place in the province, he added. Nevertheless, people accept the results of the elections.
Politics in the Cordilleras for Atty. Torres is average to getting better. The public’s voting maturity is high. If they don’t like something from a politician, that politician does not expect to get elected or re-elected. If they don’t perform well, they don’t vote them. unlike in the lowlands, even if the voters do not know the person but if the family name sounds familiar, they vote for that politician. Politicians in the Cordilleras are ok. Compared to other places, Atty Torres said that politicians in this region are better. They perform much even if not everything is provided since this is way impossible. Still, they do their best and as much as they could in doing everything which is good.
COMELEC is task to enforce election laws, election, and plebiscite. This has been the life of Atty. Torres for fifteen years. With the glamour and the grotesque of being in the political arena, he does not mingle that much with politicians. It’s not because he is not comfortable dealing with them since this is his job but as much as possible, he distances his self from them so as not to affect the efficiency of his works and his job per se. He said that this is advantageous because he has not been into any problem with any politician.
Working in Regions 1 and 2 is easier than working in the Cordilleras but it is ok for Atty.. Torres. he does not see much negativity in the region. This in spite of the region’s peculiarity in topography and geography, difficulty in transportation, and communication. “Unlike in the lowlands it’s certain that you can arrive at your destination via vehicle but here in the Cordilleras you have to trek terrains and mountains,” he compared. I was a part of history’, said Atty. Torres when the automated voting system was newly introduced nationwide and having completed my assignment in Regions 1 and 2. We are the pioneers on the implementation of the system nationwide, although automated system has been used by other countries, it was utilized on specific part of those counties and not country wide. Though not first time endeavors are perfect, those foreign observers were amazed at us, he added.
As long as he can, Atty, Torres would go for optimal retirement. As long as he can deliver services to the public, his constituents, and to the people to exercise their right to vote and if election in the country is absolutely free and are peaceful then that’s the time he will retire from his work.
Atty. Torres enjoys working with the commission on elections. Even if he was not given the chance to had applied his profession as a new lawyer and with no finances yet to had held a private practice, he saw his being with the commission a blessing in disguise, this as supposed to had just been for a short term of time and for experience. “I still consider my self fortunate since my profession is what is needed to run the commission,” he said.
He said that working at COMELEC is challenging and satisfying. Challenging because, he is exposed to so many matters to deal with, people, politicians, and voters with different mind sets and satisfying because he meets a lot of people and has a good salary that is sufficient for his family. “If not because of COMELEC, I would not had been to Sulu, Mindanao, and abroad,” he said. Atty. Torres’ working rapport with his colleagues is not a problem. Honestly, he treats his subordinates down to the utilities and janitors as not lower in all matters. He sees them eye to eye and does not impose authority over them. He threshes out problems with them as his friends. Of course, contradictory people are inevitable in all government agencies and departments who do not want the way affairs are being manned but, he makes the most out of it that he’ll not be affected.
He is patient with his work, he strives to accomplish the goals the office and the functions mandated to him the soonest possible time, he works efficiently under pressure. Efficiency in one way of what is right is legal; certain issues and circumstances that are legal yet illegal; being in the government performing what is entrusted to him or her within the bounds of law is when everything is ok.
Atty. Torres was not able to have applied his profession privately in an office because he was absorbed by the commission. But even if he is not working in the justice hall, he is performing his profession as a lawful lawyer and within the bounds of law in the government. He loves sports particularly basketball, even if he can’t play the game with his time, he watches it on tv. He watches American football and movies. He plays table tennis with his high school and college friends. He plays video games on his spare time and it’s a habit until now with passion and enjoyment. “i spend time with my family. When finances permit, I occasionally take trips with them within the country and I enjoy it with my family”, he said. He eats any food with no preferences and it’s his simple pleasure.
Atty. Torres, as people say, is patient. According to him because in most things he thinks of what will happen with his job. In pressing matters, he evaluates them and allots time for them. he does not get angry with his subordinates even if they have inadequacies. He believes that if something is wrong, there is a solution to it. Blowing your top is not a solution but it should be solved calmly. People say he is pensive but they prove otherwise if they talk to him since he is friendly and easy to talk to, as proven.
For him, public service is essentially helping ordinary people exercise their right of suffrage and whatever right as a whole. For him, a public servant is someone who would ideally put up the interest of other people other than his or her own interest. Being on the government and earning salary is secondary and service to the people and seeing them enjoy their rights is primary.
He was a firm student before who considered himself average when he was at school. He always has a goal no matter how small it is. He set sight on things. He is blessed by God, even he is not that religious but still believes in the Divine. He works out concerns to be successful because he believes that not everything is given in a silver platter. He is Atty. Julius D. Torres, the Regional Director for COMELEC-CAR. /Ezequiel Banas-e