UniversityRoad to 2016: Lasallians and the 2016 nat’l elections
Road to 2016: Lasallians and the 2016 nat’l elections

Next year’s election period officially begins on January 10, according to the Philippine Commission on Elections (COMELEC)’s recently promulgated Resolution No. 9981.

The resolution also prescribes the calendar of activities in connection with the National and Local Elections (NLE), set to be held on May 9, 2016.

Campaign period for candidates running for President, Vice President, Senators, and party-list groups participating in the party-list system of representation commences on February 9. On the other hand, campaign period for member of the congress, elective regional, provincial, city and miunicipal officials commences on March 25.

The previous NLE was held five years ago on May 10, 2010. A large number of current DLSU students were not even of voting age during that time. A survey conducted by The LaSallian reveals that out of 200 total respondents, 193 of whom will be at least 18 years old by May 9, 2016, 176 respondents — or roughly 91.2 percent — will be first time voters. This calls for a keen and active preparation on the part of the students wanting to participate in the elections.


To vote or not to vote?

Political Science Department Chair Dr. Eric Batalla explains that voting is important provided there are adequate choices. “The right to vote doesn’t mean that you need to vote, or have to vote. That also includes not voting if the choices are bad,” he emphasizes.

Even before the official period for filing of certificates of candidacy, several politicians have already publicly expressed their desire to run for various positions under their respective parties. As of press time, Mar Roxas of the Liberal Party, incumbent Vice President Jejomar Binay from the United Nationalist Party, and Sen. Ping Lacson have announced their intention to run for the presidency. However, Sen. Grace Poe and former president Joseph Estrada are among those anticipated to announce their candidacy in the coming weeks.

Dr. Batalla also shares several points of advice on what a first time voter must keep in mind for the elections. He warns students against deceptions, urges them to be critical with information from mass media, and reminds them to reflect. “In these troubled times, it’s more of a spiritual exercise rather than a rational one,” he explains.

In light of the rampant corruption that has been affecting the country for many decades, Dr. Batalla stresses that it is important for voters to determine which candidates can be considered good. Usually, graft and corruption are only associated with plunder. However, he explains, “Corruption is not simply pocketing public resources [for yourself]. It involves a whole range of activities.” Providing information and giving plans prematurely for private gain are some examples of graft that voters must look out for.

Corruption has been a long-standing issue plaguing the Philippine government. As each election passes, a chance for reform and change emerges. In looking for a suitable candidate to lead the Philippines, Dr. Batalla asserts that a candidate needs heart, mind and soul, and must be able to use knowledge and intellect to address problems in society and in the government.

Dr. Batalla also states that people should be politically active beyond elections. “It’s more important for the citizens to participate in our daily politics. It’s not simply a ceremonial one day exercise to say that we are citizens by voting,” he describes.

According to Dr. Batalla, there are two ways to induce political activeness: material and immaterial. He explains that immaterial motivation refers to altruistic motives such as nationalism and humanism, while material motivation matches the personal costs and benefits of political participation.


Surveying the students

The results of the aforementioned survey show that 96.4 percent or 193 respondents will be of voting age by May 9, 2016. Of that population, 53.9 percent or 104 are registered voters. A majority of them (91.2 percent) will be voting for the first time this coming elections, although more than half are still undecided on who to vote for (53.9 percent) and more than a third are nervous about voting (33.7 percent). Registration for voters started on May 9 of last year, and is scheduled to end on October 31 of this year.

The survey also reveals that more than half of the respondents (54 percent) voted in the previous University Student Government (USG) General Elections (GE). “It is a must and it is also our responsibility as students to choose the right people to represent us in the USG that would be the ones to make sure that all of our concerns and addressed,” Neil Duguran (III, MEM-MR) contends.

For a number of respondents, voting during the USG GE is a “practice” for the real thing — the forthcoming NLE in 2016.

Likening the participation of students in the most recent GE with that in the upcoming NLE, Adi Briones (II, AEF-BSA) shares, “I believe that voting inside the University through the GE is a very good training ground before I vote in the Philippine National Elections.” He reasons, “Through the GE, I am able to look at the different platforms of candidates, and analyze which will be most beneficial to our University. I will use the same practice when I will vote in 2016, looking at the platform of our candidates and analyzing which programs would best solve the current problems of the country.”

Luigi Arce (III, CAM-ADV) echoes these sentiments, and adds, “I voted in the GE and will be voting during the 2016 elections [partly] because I find it sad how a lot of people who complain about the government don’t actually do
anything to help.”


Boto Lasalyano, Sulong Pilipino

Last August 24, the University’s national election education program Boto Lasalyano Sulong Pilipino (BLSP) was formally launched at the Animo Labs in Henry Sy Sr. Hall. BLSP Chairperson Mae Mae Gonzales explains that BLSP “really aims to heighten awareness and participation among Lasallians and the rest of the nation” in line with the 2016 NLE.

Among its activities for the period leading up to the elections are iRehistro, which was held at the Cory Aquino Democratic Space last August 24 to September 2; a Presidential Youth Forum to take place in January next year; and mock elections in May, right before the NLE.

“When elections come, we have to acknowledge what a big opportunity it is to shape the future that we are a part of,” Gonzales speaks of the upcoming NLE. In line with this, she continues that as Filipinos fortunate enough to receive good education, “it is our responsibility as Lasallians to help those who don’t know as much as we do.”