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USG holds voter education forum 2022

Article by: Kristin Clarisse H. Mateo and Kandhalvi M. Asaali

As part of Mapúa University’s (MU) 97th Foundation Week celebration, the University Student Government (USG), composed of the Central Student Council (CSC), Council of Presidents, and Council of Organizations, organized a voter education forum to promote youth participation in the upcoming elections last January 28 via Zoom and Facebook Live.

In his opening remarks, MU President and CEO Dr. Reynaldo B. Vea cited the importance of the event that would educate Mapúans, especially first-time voters, about voters’ rights and responsibilities, ethics of voting in the Philippines, and discernment of technology-mediated information. He added that the forum would provide socio-economic context to help voters choose the future leaders of the country.

Dr. Vea also encouraged everyone to participate in the upcoming elections and emphasized that each vote matters, especially when a million votes come from an accumulation of one vote. “It is easy to say that my vote, being just one among the millions, will not matter, but just think of the consequences if many of us have the same idea or attitude,” the MU President and CEO stated.

Following that, three guest speakers imparted their knowledge on voting and discussed the importance of voters’ education, namely Mr. Lucian Dioneda, Dr. Julio Teehankee, and Dr. Tony La Viña.

Promoting an unconventional voter education session, Mr. Lucian Dioneda, the Head of Research and Advocacy under the Office of Senator Grace Poe, encouraged the voters to see themselves as the winning candidate. He then enumerated the roles and responsibilities of the country’s president and advised the voters to choose the candidate who shares the same views and sentiments.

The most important actor in elections is not the candidates, but you – the problems, issues, and policies which you value, and where you want the country to go,” Mr. Dioneda shared.

Dr. Julio Teehankee, a professor of Political Science and International Studies and a research fellow at De La Salle University-Manila, then gave a thorough discussion on the dynamics of the Philippine presidential elections from 1992 to 2016 . He presented the strategies including the narratives and slogans of the presidential candidates and explained how each of them was successful in securing the highest position in the country back then.

Dr. Teehankee discussed the presidential elections that will be held in May as well. Regardless of the current presidential survey results, the Political Science professor stated that “politics, just like any other social activity, is dynamic” and the voters still have the capacity to act before the upcoming elections.  “But the question, really, is what will you do, students of Mapúa University, because the future depends on you,” he conveyed.

Continuing the forum, Dr. Antonio “Tony” La Viña, a professor of law, governance, and philosophy and the Director for research and policy development at the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center, made a run-through of what to expect for the next weeks of campaign, such as the upcoming three presidential debates sponsored by COMELEC, polling companies and survey firms being on-field, and the pending disqualification cases against the presidential candidacy of dictator’s son Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. 

Dr. La Viña  also tackled the national issues that presidential aspirants should answer in the upcoming debates, stating that “this country should not have a one-size-fits-all strategy” in addressing issues like education crisis amid pandemic and climate change. He then discussed the ethical obligations of voters to “register to vote, listen to debates/forums, look at more information about the candidates to make an informed decision, share information with peers and family, not sell votes, and support the winner as long as it is an honest win.

Moving on to the next portion of the event, the USG invited all the presidential candidates to answer questions on the protection of media integrity amidst spread of misinformation and alleged attack on free speech, platforms and legislations to implement for the country’s education system, and responses to national crises due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Out of the 10 presidential aspirants, only six responded to the USG’s invitation and provided their answers to the questions through recorded videos. These candidates were former presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella, former Secretary of National Defense Norberto Gonzales, Dr. Jose Montemayor, Jr., Philippine Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo, former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr., and labor leader Leodegario “Ka Leody” de Guzman.

Capping off the forum, CSC President Niña Cagalawan extended her gratitude to the guest speakers, attendees, faculty members, and co-officers, who contributed to the success of the event. “In the hopes of uniting everyone by providing essential information about the social issues that we have, I believe that we have met our goal for today [through the voter education forum],” she added.

The national, provincial, and local elections, except for the barangay officials, will be held on May 9, 2022.  

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