Since August 1, voters have been flocking to offices of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and satellite registration areas in preparation for the 2020 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections and the 2022 national elections. Over 61 million voters were registered for the previous midterm elections, but Comelec is anticipating an estimated  2 million new voters to sign up until the registration period closes on September 30.

De La Salle Philippines (DLSP), under the leadership of the Committee on National Issues & Concerns and the Lasallian Justice and Peace Commission, recently conducted respective satellite voter registration initiatives at the DLSU Manila campus and at De La Salle-College of St. Benilde (DLS-CSB). From September 16 to 20, Lasallian students, alumni, employees, and community partners who are residents of cities in the National Capital Region were invited to register at both schools. 

Making it happen

The voters registration initiative was made possible through the collaboration of multiple parties, which include the University Student Government (USG), Comelec, the Center for Social Concern and Action, DLS-CSB, and DLSP. Co-project head Hannah Tuason (VI, CHE) served as the main liaison to Comelec, having introduced the project as part of her personal advocacy. 

“The goals of the project were to increase the amount of registered voters in DLSU and CSB, make the registration process simpler and more convenient, and raise awareness for the upcoming elections,” shared USG Vice President for External Affairs Ronin Leviste. Though a sudden class suspension caused a change in the initial schedule, the organizers deemed the project an overall success due to the substantial turnout of registrants. 

A successful first step

An unofficial tally from the USG showed that a total of 2,079 eligible voters signed up during the four-day registration. Most registrants hailed from Manila City which saw 448 of its residents register at the two schools, followed by Parañaque City with 363. 

When asked about their experiences, several students acknowledged the advantages of establishing satellite registration areas in school. For DLS-CSB student Maria Alyssa Romero, the convenience of the process was definitely beneficial for dormers like her. She explained that it was far easier for her to register in Manila than in Quezon City, where she permanently resides. 

Denyce Dela Cruz (III, BS-ADV) offered similar sentiments, saying: “You don’t have to undergo the process of long queues and compete with a lot of people just to finish registering.” 

Apart from holding the annual registration, Botong Lasalyano Sulong Pilipino, which is the USG’s umbrella program for electoral awareness, is also looking to strengthen voter education among DLSU students and outside communities.  “This is in the hopes of making the voting population more informed in preparation for coming [sic] elections,” Leviste explained. 

Each vote matters

Comelec Regional Director Atty. Jubil Surmieda stood before the Lasaliian community during the opening ceremony to highlight the significance of exercising one’s constitutional right to register to vote. He expressed his gratitude to the community and commended the students’ initiative “to promote the exercise of political privileges.”

Surmieda also remarked on how some citizens repeatedly complain about social issues without working toward their own solution. According to him, if people want change, they can do so by  using their votes. “Maraming nagrereklamo na ayaw namin ng ganito, ayaw namin ng ganyanang problema hindi naman pala sila registered voter. Pangalawa, hindi naman pala sila nakaboto,” he said.

(Many are complaining about things they do not want, yet they are not registered voters, nor do they exercise their right to vote.)

Meanwhile, DLSP Chief Executive Officer Edgar Chua assured the audience that the voting initiative will continue, reminding the youth that the simple act of voting goes a long way.  “Voting is not just a constitutional right. It is [the] responsibility of each and everyone. The youth, which is the hope of our future, need to be involved as early as possible,” Chua stressed.

Leviste, meanwhile, shared that organizing the event had been nothing short of fulfilling, “Our voice—our vote—has the ability to make a difference in the lives of many other Filipinos. That’s why we have to make it count, and I’ve never been prouder to see Lasallians come out and register.”

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