As we near May, the importance of the impending national elections is becoming more widely recognized. Even within the Lasallian community, the would-be involvement of various sectors in the 2022 elections was earlier measured in the DLSU Survey on Voter Intention that received 1,247 responses from May to July.
By the end of September, the Philippine Commission on Elections (Comelec) reported that there were more than 63 million registered voters. This figure is significantly higher than Comelec’s projected estimate of 59 million by the end of this year.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, the total number of voters in time for the 2022 national and municipal elections would be above 73 million. In terms of demographics, 35 percent of voters would be between 18 and 29 years old, 12 percent would be senior citizens, while the remaining 53 percent would be between the ages of 30 to 59. With this data, around 17.3 million votes would be submitted by the youth, 26.6 million votes by those aged 30 to 59, and the remaining six million by senior citizens.
A collective effort
Aiming to foster educated participation among Lasallians for the upcoming national elections, strides were made by various sectors within the University such as the launch of Boto Lasalyano, Sulong Pilipino (BLSP) 2022. As the student sector’s spokesperson, the Office of the Vice President for External Affairs (OVPEA) has spearheaded the majority of BLSP’s activities and programs. Former University Student Government (USG) OVPEA head Cate Malig and her staff led the #YouthVote2022 campaign, which featured voter’s education seminars while delving into the statistics of registered voters in the country. Lara Jomalesa, the current OVPEA head, will continue Malig’s collaboration with the Jesse M. Robredo Institute of Governance to assist them in developing the institutional electoral agenda and with the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) once they receive official accreditation from Comelec.
BLSP 2022 is mainly focused on “objective, issue-oriented, and values-based voters education,” with its initiatives geared toward formulating an electoral agenda followed by the discernment and profiling of election candidates. As the student sector representative in the Commission on National Issues and Concerns (CONIC), Malig and the USG were hands-on in coming up with initiatives that would deliver the primary goal of the BLSP campaign.
Jomalesa’s administration also plans on partnering with Samahang Lasalyano and the #PHVote coalition in the near future. The USG will also be launching its flagship project for the elections, Lasalyano Para sa 2022, which will include interuniversity dialogue, fundraising activities for partner communities, and a website on candidates’ profiles, among others.
Through the organization of institutional campaigns, BLSP also envisions engaging the Lasallian community via digital platforms to address the limitations posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The campaign itself will also feature the distribution of different informative and engaging materials to entice constituents regarding the campaigns.
Apart from initiating most of the activities that the OVPEA had so far under the BLSP campaign such as the voter’s registration survey, the Convention of Leaders, which consolidated all initiatives; all voter’s education initiatives under the BLSP campaign; and the formulation of the electoral agenda, have all been in collaboration with or led by the USG.
Meanwhile, CONIC and the Center for Social Concern and Action (COSCA) also forged partnerships internally and externally. Among these organizations include the Lasallian Justice and Peace Commission, which may help in terms of research and analysis on current governance issues and participation among Filipino voters. COSCA member Angelo Herrera mentions that they were the University’s representative to external non-partisan networks for possible collaboration. COSCA helped in other University projects by giving pertinent information and resource person recommendations to student organizations and other members of the Lasallian community.
According to Herrera, COSCA has “represented the University in the coordination and collaboration with external non-partisan networks” pursuing similar goals and agendas in the run-up to the approaching elections. This includes coordinating with the National Capital Region Advocacy Committee of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines, the Eleksyon 2022 Koalisyon, Task Force Eleksyon, and Edu 2022. With this, best practices were shared among participating organizations and institutions, and voter education initiatives reached a larger audience.
“Partnerships with Bawat Isa Mahalaga, Rappler, GMA, PPCRV, [and] National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections are also being formed not just for voter education but also for election volunteering opportunities for Lasallians,” Herrera adds.
Lessons from 2019
While CONIC and BLSP’s initiatives in choosing the right leaders are nothing new, lessons were learned from the 2019 senatorial elections when none of the opposition candidates earned a seat in the Senate.
Despite most youths favoring the said candidates, Herrera believes that those did not become votes, as a significant portion of the DLSU community’s population was unregistered.
In response, the organization launched satellite voter registration in coordination with the USG and the Commission on Elections last September 2019. Despite its cancellation last year, they remain committed to encouraging students to join in voter registration, which ended last October 30.
He also reiterates that CONIC and BLSP will remain non-partisan to candidates but biased to the principles and values that form the Lasallian identity, such as upholding democracy, human rights, and dignity. “CONIC will definitely not campaign for any party or candidate but will be providing spaces of dialogue and support materials that can empower the intention of voters to choose leaders that represent their own values and aspirations,” Herrera emphasizes.
In addition, 1Sambayan Lasalyano is also involved in fostering voters’ education and participation across the 16 De La Salle Philippines schools as it empowers others through “a holistic approach and empathetic perspective” on critical social issues, as mentioned by their spokesperson, Angelo Lescano. The group organized Dude, Pare, Change, a roundtable discussion last August 25, as part of their goal to bridge the various perspectives and differences across schools to form a shared vision and aspirations for the country.
However, 1Sambayan has been criticized for purely criticizing Duterte instead of focusing on the plans and platforms that they will be pursuing. Lescano explains that the group is against Duterte given the president’s overarching control over the different branches of government, undermining the integral checks and balances in democracy. “It has only been like that (being anti-Duterte) because we have been very critical of the administration,” he reasons.
The organization will also have its own youth agenda, formed from consultations with different youth sectors to show what policies and legislation officials can pursue and prioritize in the name of advancing the youth’s interests. However, 1Sambayan Lasalyano faced setbacks when DLSU organizations turned down their requests for collaboration. Lescano expresses dismay and hopes that organizations can be more open to cooperation with political groups in the future to be more socially and politically active.
It can be said that the youth are now taking an ever increasing role in ensuring that candidates who are fit to serve are indeed voted into office, especially after the 2019 senatorial elections and the youth’s dissatisfaction with the current administration. The fruits of these initiatives, however, will only be known once the final votes are tallied on May 2022.