“Magfocus kayo sa defending your democratic way of life. Kasi madugo itong sunod na election so you have to prepare for it. I hope you will all be guided, I hope you will all be inspired, I hope you will be courageous,” COMELEC Commissioner Atty. Rowena Guanzon said on her message for the Filipino youth as she talks about responsible and wise voting.
On August 15, SUGPAT, a program of Ateneo de Zamboanga University, organized “RAWR (Reinforcing Active participation through Wise and Responsible voting): A talk show on youth voters’ education,” as part of the International Youth Day 2020.
The talk show invited Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Commissioner Rowena Guanzon to talk about wise and responsible voting among youth, and their role in today’s society.
In partnership with the Sangguniang Kabataan Federation of Zamboanga del Norte, Dipolog City, and Zamboanga City, the Facebook Live talk show aims to influence the youth to use their right to vote in the local and national elections.
Linking this year’s theme of the IYD “Youth Engagement for Global Action, SUGPAT Founding Director Kiko Miranda said that aside from participating and attending youth programs and activities, and volunteering, youth engagement also means having the power to choose the right leaders for our city and country, he added, “it means using our vote to put the right leaders in place who would determine what our lives will be like for the next six years. The goal of youth engagement is to shape our nation to be a humane and just society where every child, every young person, every adult will live quality lives.”
The UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth Jayathma Wickramanayake said, “The Covid-19 pandemic revealed the fragility of our current global systems. It exposed the flaws of our political economic and social structures. I’m so proud to see young people calling out the root causes of this flawed systems.”
May 2022 elections to expect more than 32 million young Filipino voters
According to the National Statistics Office, around 2.6 million Filipinos will turn 18 years old on of before the May 13, 2022 elections.
“That’s a lot of people. If you say only half of those will register, that’s around 1.4 million. The total number of voters we have last elections was 62 million. Our data in COMELEC shows 32.9 million Filipino voters are below 40 years old. So that’s around 53% of our voters total nationwide.
“Can you imagine if that is a critical mass base? You can elect senators, you can elect a president, you can elect a vice president if you have a highly organize mass base of people below 40,” Commissioner Guanzon said on the impact young people can make during the election season.
Furthermore, Commissioner Guanzon said that for her, the youth should focus on promoting and defending the democratic way of life, she added “To continue preserving and fighting for our freedom, under our constitution, we need people, young people, who are daring, who are courageous, who are well-informed.”
Comm. Guanzon also said that one more way of preserving and defending the democracy is fighting against vote buying. She said that in the coming May 2022 elections, youth organizations can partner with their local police and COMELEC Officers to gather evidence by using their phone cameras.
Elections in the lens of volunteers
The talk show was also participated by a representative of the Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE), Atty. Mary Ann Alba, and a representative of National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL), Christopher Chiong.
The two guests shared about their experiences as volunteers during the elections, and answered live questions from the online streaming.
Atty. Alba said she thinks love for the country is one principle the youth must develop, she added, “I think the love for the country must really be instilled in our youth because when our foundation is strong and sturdy, the powerful youth could definitely shape the future of our nation. If they are guided by their love for the country, in everything that they will do, it will always be for the glory of God and our country.”
“It’s very important to provide right guidance on the youth pertaining to leadership. The challenge now is, they have to be critical in evaluating and discerning which candidate to choose, and be a wise decision maker. The youth should take their rightful place in actively determining their future,” Christopher Chiong said on the importance of educating young voters.
Cary Pioc, SK Zamboanga City Federation President, Miles Tejada, SK Zamboanga del Norte Federation President, and Zoe Mandel Lugasan, SK Dipolog City Federation President, all gave their closing messages as partners of this event.
The program ended with a Responsible Voting Commitment Ceremony where the audience of the live event pledged to be responsible and wise voters.
“Our vote, our power to choose the right leaders to lead our country is the power of the youth,” Miranda said.
You can watch the recorded talk show in SUGPAT’s Facebook Page.