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Empowered and engaged: A Halalan 2022-ready DLSU

Lasallians weigh in on the commmunity’s electoral bets and voting practices, and share factors that motivated them to be more outspoken.

Last April 18 to 21, the University Student Government (USG), in collaboration with the Committee on National Issues and Concerns and Boto Lasalyano, Sulong Pilipino (BLSP), launched Pulso ng Lasalyano—a University-wide mock election.

Out of 4,289 votes from student respondents, Vice President Leni Robredo and Sen. Kiko Pangilinan dominated the presidential and vice-presidential polls, recording 96.34 percent and 92.87 percent, respectively. Both at second place, Bongbong Marcos only garnered 1.17 percent of the votes, while Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio had 1.77 percent.

The top senatorial bet—amassing 97.81 percent—was Tañada-Diokno College of Law founding Dean Chel Diokno. Not far behind were Sen. Risa Hontiveros with 93.70 percent and Sen. Leila de Lima with 84.26 percent. Meanwhile, Kabataan Partylist prevailed in the partylist preferential polls with 31.85 percent, followed by Gabriela Women’s Party with 13.29 percent.

After the release of the mock election results, an official endorsement of the Robredo-Pangilinan tandem from the USG was posted. Over a thousand Lasallian Brothers and educators, together with more than 10,000 students and alumni from De La Salle Philippines, have also signed a statement of support for the tandem. 

In light of these endorsements, however, there is much to be dissected when discussing Lasallians’ voting behavior with regard to the elections.

Beyond the ballot

As supported by the mock election’s results, Lasallians prefer candidates that promote genuine democracy through service-oriented and people-centered leadership, as well as those who promote representation and transparency, and have concrete platforms with track records to support these.

For students like Moira Pulumbarit (I, CAM-LGL), Aggy Puerto (II, ABLIM-CW), Raya Sabandal (II, PSYC), and Cielo Torres (II, BSE-SCIB), their ideal candidate is someone who is with and for the people, has a clean record, and has the willingness to serve. Pulumbarit emphasizes that we must be driven to vote for leaders “who are willing to listen to the adamant crises [of the country].”

“My ideal candidate is someone who is willing to uplift the common man,” Puerto says, identifying Leody de Guzman and Robredo as candidates that they state fit the criteria. 

Moreover, the interviewed Lasallians also put emphasis on the need to seek an improvement in the health and education sectors in the next six years, reflecting on the country’s COVID-19 response. Support and proper allocation of funds for the health sector should be the priority of the incoming administration, Pulumbarit puts forward. Meanwhile, Torres—as a future educator—cites that the nation’s next leaders should focus on realigning the country’s education system to keep up with the “new normal”.

As Lasallian core values, critical thinking, compassion, and honesty all affect the process of selecting and scrutinizing candidates, Sabandal remarks that being a Lasallian shaped her to be more than just socially aware. She shares that being one also taught her to look for political aspirants that genuinely care for the people by doing what is right and just—embodying the Lasallian core value, Zeal for Service.

As student leaders, Santugon sa Tawag ng Panahon (Santugon) President Paolo Teh and Alyansang Tapat sa Lasallista (Tapat) President Marv Sayson base their criteria for choosing their national candidates from their respective party’s principles. Teh cites Santugon’s three brands of leadership: consultative, proactive, and responsive. On the other hand, Sayson enumerates Tapat’s 5P’s: principled, personal, professional, progressive, and pioneering. Sayson also adds that Tapat also looks for a candidate who can translate their words into actions.

Both agree that being part of Santugon and Tapat taught them to look for candidates who have a pro-people approach in their advocacies and are committed to the Filipino people.

With regard to Lasallians’ voting behavior, Teh points out three: being actively engaged and discerning in political conversations, simply going with the flow and choosing candidates based on either faces or achievements, and being apolitical.

Meanwhile, Sayson describes Lasallians as generally “dynamic and strategic” in making voting decisions. “In DLSU, we see the background of the students vary and this, in turn, affects their choices when electing leaders,” he notes.

But in the endeavor of voting, Sayson and Teh agree that the most important practice is doing individual research on the candidates, along with their platforms, stances, and track records. The former stresses the importance of participating in discussions about national issues and current events, while the latter expresses that the influence of culture and peers on one’s voting decisions must be taken into consideration.

Yesterday’s Lasallian votes

This was not the first time that a Marcos was a candidate in the University’s mock election polls. It was in 1986, preceding the snap elections—spearheaded by the Center for Social Concern and Action (COSCA)—that Marcos Jr.’s father and namesake, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. ran as a reelectionist for presidency against opposition presidential candidate Corazon Aquino, garnering only 20 percent against Aquino’s 80 percent out of 3,770 participants. Meanwhile, Arturo Tolentino—Marcos’ running mate—narrowly won against Salvador Laurel with a five-percent difference.

In the 2016 DLSU mock elections, the late Miriam Defensor-Santiago—with 48.21 percent—led the presidential polls, and behind her was President Rodrigo Duterte with 25.60 percent. For the vice presidency, Robredo earned 66.83 percent, while Marcos only had 13.45 percent of the votes. This mock election had 3,696 participants.

Throughout the years, Lasallians remain steadfast in being socially-involved and vocal about their political stances and as USG Vice President for External Affairs and BLSP Lead Convenor Lara Jomalesa notes, “Makikita naman natin na very involved talaga ‘yung Lasallian community when it comes to national elections, and I guess that has always been the culture in DLSU, more so in Metro Manila.”

(We can see that the Lasallian community is very involved when it comes to national elections.)

When asked about the difference in voting behaviors between Lasallians that experienced face-to-face classes with those who only experienced college online, Jomalesa mentions the challenges that the community has faced throughout the pandemic motivated the students to be more vocal about their political opinions and preferences. Another factor that might have encouraged student involvement is when the students could judge for themselves the platforms and stances of the candidates through BLSP and USG organized debates, she adds.

With a day left to decide the next six years of the Philippines, Torres emphasizes, “The Philippines deserves leaders with moral integrity [who] will prioritize the welfare of our people.”

By Jezah Mae Bagsit

By Alecxis Bianca Libang

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