The May 2013 Philippine general elections consisted of 28 million voters aged 18 – 25. This translates to 54.9 percent of the total voting population. Members of the DLSU community of legal age were given the opportunity to register themselves as voters and elect government officials whom they believed to be instrumental in changing the nation.
Most Lasallians experienced difficulty in registering as voters. From the interviews, most students did not take advantage of the voter registration period set by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), from May 3, 2011 to October 31, 2012. Reasons vary from not being well-informed of the registration period to not being able to lineup at their registration centers because of school days.
Bea Miñana (II, CAM-APC) shares, “I was not able to vote as I did not reach the application period to register as a voter. I intend on applying as soon as possible, however, to be able to vote in the next elections.”
Lack of awareness in the registration period and the general election as a whole is not surprising. In the Mamamayan/Mamamahayag mock elections conducted last February 27, of which DLSU was part, only 273 students participated.
Despite the struggles experienced during the registration on the election itself, other Lasallians had an easier time registering and voting.
Carlos Roxas (IV, PSM) was a first time voter and was thankful his experience was unexpectedly easy. He was in and out of the precinct in no less than five minutes, while other polling precincts incurred delays of up to four hours.
On the election outcome
Similar to the sentiments on the process of registration and voting, Lasallians generally share mixed reactions on the election results.
Frances Vista (III, BCHEM) thinks that the recently concluded elections showed that the Filipinos are still greatly influenced by fame and name over platform and credibility. “Although some people are slowly becoming educated voters, majority still don’t seem to understand the concept of voting correctly,” she says.
Angelica Pulido (I, POM) agrees, believing that the winners owe it to their large investment in TV advertisements. “The winners are the same people we saw everyday in TV commercials,” she observed, adding that being more visible than other candidates gave them a greater advantage in terms of name recall and association.
Nicolas Tan (III, BSA), a DLSU NAMFREL volunteer also observed that the results of the mock elections sponsored by the School of Economics and UP Diliman differed greatly to the actual election results. He concludes, “It just goes to show that [the choices of] both schools do not represent the majority.”
As Lasallians exercised their right to vote, they expressed varied viewpoints on how their vote can influence the nation.
Mark Velasco (II, POM), a first time voter believes that his vote counts. “It is an essential act to vote because the fate of a country can lie on a single vote.”
On the other hand, Clive Dee (III, MGT) no longer thinks voting is important, explaining that succeeding politicians will continue what previous politicians have wrongly been doing which would yield what he calls “an endless cycle of unfulfilled campaign promises.”
Lasallians get involved
Students from the College of Computer Studies (CCS) developed the DLSU Election Eye, a web-based system that monitored the elections and assisted different government agencies like the Commission on Elections and the Philippine National Police by reporting election-related concerns they gathered from social media and SMS.
Students who volunteered and participated in these election-related activities at the time did not think voting was enough and being more involved was just as important.
The same goes for first time voter Roxas, who after seeing the reality of vote buying and group voting, wanted to take action against it by becoming a NAMFREL volunteer. He shares that the election watch was an avenue for him to see what was happening and know what could be done about them and encourage other people to get involved as well.
Jolly Obeles (III, MKT) another NAMFREL volunteer spent a day helping keep the elections clean. She shares, “As a volunteer, we were assigned to different schools in district 4 and 5. We roam around by groups/pairs and supervise the things they do during elections, especially the people who are involved in political parties who acted as poll watchers, and reported significant scenarios that happened.”
Grace Bajo (III, ECM) says volunteering was no easy task, and was frustrating at times especially when they were faced with electoral fraud, which happened almost naturally. “We had to take note and secure evidence like pictures or videos of all the anomalies happening in the voting stations. At the end of the day, we did an exhaustive report about the whole experience. The evidence was the most important part since we had to forward it to NAMFREL.”
Bea Saldua (IV, ADV) on the other hand, helped prepare promotional materials for her uncle’s campaign. She believes that being a Lasallian helped her in contributing to the campaign. “The background I got from my majors helped a lot. But aside from that, I think Lasallians are really proactive when it comes to these things,” she says.
“I’m planning to volunteer and not just vote in the 2016 elections,” Paulo Feraren (II, POM) says—a sentiment that more and more Lasallians are opening up to, following the 2013 senatorial elections.