By Russell Ku
Chalk Campus Correspondent
With the 2019 Philippine general election nearing by, we should ask ourselves how prepared are we for it? As a generation that is surrounded with so much information that is fed into our feeds which we can react to such, this gives us both an advantage and disadvantage in knowing who best suits our nation's interests. We have that great power to vote for those who will lead and change the future of our country.
So to get us into the right disposition, we asked student leaders about how we can prepare for the upcoming elections.
How Important Are Young Voters?
The power of young voters actually plays a key role in affecting the outcome of the elections not only by numbers, but also by the power they have in the table. Madelene De Borja, Convener for Bantay Boto which is the National Election Initiative of the UP Diliman University Student Council, says that given the number of registered young voters, our votes are “enough to elect a president." She further emphasizes the importance of the youth sector being organized and united with the common goal of progressive and good governance in our country. Hyacenth Bendaña, President of the Ateneo Sanggunian further says, "When [we] speak out and cast [our] ballot for the values [we] fight and believe for, we shape the Philippine politics."
Tip # 1: Educate.
Being wise and informed voters starts with our own views when it comes to politics and the elections. Aly Alberto, Head of the Ateneo Task Force for the 2019 Senatorial Elections, suggests to research first on social issues, current national events, as well as the the candidates, their platforms, and the issues or cases they have been involved in if there are any.
Michelle Abad, Editor-in-Chief of Ateneo's The Guidon, also emphasizes though that research should be issue-based. “It's not enough to look at the background and achievement of the person, but you should also look at what the issue itself lacks and what it needs. Then try to see if the person running is going to fill in the void of what a particular issue needs,” she says.
Tip # 2: Engage.
It's not just enough to be socially and politically aware. You should also know and discuss why these issues are there in the first place and put yourself in the shoes of those directly affected. Jason Jarabejo, Chairperson of the UP CMC Student Council, says, "There's always going to be multiple layers in looking at the issues that we're facing right now. We have to make sure that we also engage to all forms of perspective". He also encourages participation in initiatives that promote voter's education such as debates. If we cannot attend such, we can promote discourse and discussion even if it's just within our barkada.
Madelene also tells young voters that the election is only a platform towards change. "We will have to fully immerse ourselves to the cause closest to our hearts, and we shall always fight for what we believe is right," she adds.
Tip # 3: Examine.
With a lot information that is constantly in our feeds, we need to examine all the information that we see in order to help us be fully informed of the truth. Michelle also notes that there is an "oversaturation of information" and notes the importance of young voters to be critical and to "go beyond the minimum" in trying to understand the context and truth towards an issue.
She also further notes that young voters should not just rely on one source of information. "Even the most credible and reputable sources of information are still prone to misinformation and may not capture the whole story," she warns.
Why Should Young Voters Vote?
As cliché as it is, remember that every vote counts. The vote you will place in the ballot isn't just part of a number. It is your one unique voice that can help change the Philippines and its future. Keep that in mind before you decide on whose names to shade come May 13th.
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