Botong Lasalyano, Sulong Pilipino (BLSP) 2019 was formally launched last March 11 at the University Student Government (USG) conference hall in preparation for the upcoming national midterm elections on May 13. The program aims to encourage smarter and more participative voting among DLSU students. To that end, initiatives such as voter education programs, advocacy programs, awareness campaigns for national issues, and a mock election will be implemented. In addition, the USG partnered up with the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), an organization which conducts proper vote counting, to assist in the proceedings.
Why voting matters
In his talk, Paolo Domondon, a former board member of PPCRV, lamented the condition of the Philippines. He told the audience, “I’ve always wondered growing up why the Philippines with so much talent, with so much national resources, still remains poor.” Relating stories of hard work, Domondon said that the challenge is in transforming one’s dreams into reality. To do that, he argued, right leaders must be elected. “Eventually, it will be our own call if we don’t do anything, if we don’t put an end to this [current state of our country],” he emphasized.
Meanwhile, Ramon Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform, argued that the problem with elections in the country does not lie in institutions such as the three branches of government, but instead lies in the political party system. Specifically, Casiple highlighted how parties do not stand for an identifiable platform.
This then results to politics dependent on personalities rather than plans of action, he argued. Although the candidates presented are usually the same kinds of people, the key for Casiple is to choose leaders who are “worthy of office.”
Pastor Caloy Diño, a representative from Bawat Isa Mahalaga, a non-profit organization that tackles social justice, demonstrated what the organization does in communities across the Philippines. One notable part of the session was a mini-mock election done through the use of an online polling system.
Afterwards, an interactive question and answer session was conducted. When asked about the value of elections, the audience mentioned proper representation, uplifting the oppressed, and national development as some key points. For Diño, an election has its value in allowing a citizen’s voice to be heard, in choosing the right leader, and in the resulting impact it has towards society.
Initiatives in greater detail
The various initiatives of BLSP 2019 all combine to facilitate how a voter might choose his preferred candidate.
One of these initiatives is PILI-Pino, an online campaign that educates voters by publicizing the background of candidates and detailing the functions of different government offices. For those who have a hard time deciding on who to vote for, the USG plans to post individual views of random students in A Lasallian Vote for, another planned initiative. Meanwhile, the National Issue Awareness program will collate survey data on what students stand for and then match them with candidates having the same platform.
Just as in previous elections, a mock election is being planned. However, Matt Ang, project head for BLSP 2019, said that while the plan is to use My.LaSalle (MLS) to tally votes, it may not be guaranteed to work due to logistical concerns. As a backup plan, Google Forms would be utilized in case MLS is unavailable. Finally, BLSP 2019 would be partnering up with PPCRV for vote counting, which is volunteer work to ensure that the votes are tallied correctly.
To help accomplish all the projects, BLSP 2019 is looking for volunteers to be part of various committees. Students who wish to join may apply through the link: bit.ly/BLSP19Volunteer.