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UP student councils campaign for critical youth participation in the 2022 elections; UPvote puts resolution into action

Meanwhile, UPvote moves to engage voters outside of UPLB as the 2022 elections draw closer.

Words by Paulette Dela Paz

During the 51st General Assembly of Student Councils (GASC), student councils all across the UP system called for the promotion of critical youth participation in the 2022 national and local elections in all possible platforms to prevent the electoral bid of Duterte’s alliance (READ: UP student councils hold 51st GASC online, 20 resols for academic rights, heightened pandemic response approved).

This call was intensified in the 16th resolution adopted by the assembly, titled “A Resolution Urging the General Assembly of Student Councils for an Extensive Campaign to Prevent the Electoral Bid of Rodrigo Duterte and Allies by Promoting Critical Youth Participation in the 2022 National and Local Elections.” 

Originally two separate resolutions, its merged, adopted version was filed by UPLB University Student Council (USC), UP Diliman (UPD) National College of Public Administration and Governance Student Council (NCPAGSC), and UPLB College of Arts and Sciences Student Council (CASSC). 

Napaka-relevant ng resolution na ito lalo’t malapit na ang deadline ng registration ng pagboto [This resolution is very relevant especially that the deadline of voters’ registration is drawing near],” UPLB College of Agriculture and Food Science Student Council (CAFSSC) expressed, emphasizing the urgency of Resolution 2021-016 and proposed an amendment to campaign for the extension of the voter’s registration online as the registration period nears its end on September 30, 2021. 

A resolved clause of the GASC Resolution No. 2021-016 states that the member-student councils of the GASC shall be committed in promoting extensive voters’ education programs and election education to inform their respective constituencies and communities about the danger of putting another Duterte or their allies in a national position, thereby electing leaders who adhere to the principles of good governance.

(RELATED STORIES: ‘Run Sara Run’ tarpaulins spotted in Los Baños; residents answer with vandalism, anger, ST progressives call to end fascism in Duterte’s last year as president)

As the present political and health crisis rages on, UPvote has expanded its focus to the 2022 national and local elections for the first time. UPvote is an initiative of the UPLB Perspective, UPLB USC, All UP Academic Employees Union – Los Baños (AUPAEU-LB) for an electorate and participative election aimed at raising public awareness and political consciousness in time for the USC-CSC elections.

“Now with the resolution in place kumbaga papatatagin lang nito ‘yung coordination siguro ng mga institutions, lalo na ‘yung sa student councils para ‘yung initiative na gagawin ng UPvote ay mas mapalakas and kung kaya natin, hindi lang siya mahangganan within UPLB and Southern Tagalog. Mag-reach out din tayo sa other campus units and then, sa iba pang student councils, sa iba pang publications,” UPLB USC Community Rights and Welfare head Gio Olivar explained how UPvote will contribute to the implementation of Resolution No. 2021-016.

Olivar also defined critical youth participation as actively participating in the 2022 elections through all means, both on social media and on ground campaigns.

UPvote aims to increase voter registration and participation among people inside and outside of UPLB through comprehensive information dissemination, social media engagement, focus group discussions, and even on-ground operations such as “man on the street” interviews when health protocols permit — to analyze which candidates would satisfy the needs of the various sectors by developing sectoral agendas that serve not only UPLB students and constituents, but also Indigenous groups, the urban poor, and others.

“UPvote is going to be an independent body who’s not going to tell people na ‘oh eto yung iboto niyo,’ but we’re thinking of releasing several articles na magre-recommend sa tao kung ano ‘yung katangian ng mga taong dapat iboto nila, so we will be as objective as possible so that the people will see na ‘yung objectivity namin kumbaga ay reasonable and why we have to oppose certain policies,” Olivar added.

Voting for the future

“Aside from voter participation, kailangan ma-educate natin sila because we can’t let injustices happen again. We have to be careful do’n sa mga taong pipiliin natin in 2022 elections because kung sino man ‘yung nasa administrasyon, they’re really going to steer the course of another 6 years,” Olivar said, explaining UPvote’s significance and expansion to the 2022 elections.

UP Baguio (UPB) USC expressed the urgency to unseat Duterte, citing the president’s “bloody war on drugs, corruption, disregard for human rights”, among other critical issues.

(RELATED STORIES: 5 patay, 7 arestado matapos ang ‘Bloody Sunday’ sa Timog Katagalugan, P15 billion stolen by PhilHealth executives – whistleblower; LIST: Human rights watch (September 5-11, 2021), 4 Occidental Mindoro farmers charged with ‘violating’ Terror Law, first ATL-related case in ST)

“Very relevant [ang pagboto] kasi we have seen in the five years of Duterte, they use and abuse their power to fulfill their selfish agenda […] Being victims of this admin, it is important to vote. It is only justified to call on no more Duterte in 2022 and voter education. Future ng buong mamamayang Pilipino ang nakasalalay dito [Voting is very relevant because we have seen that in the five years of Duterte, they use and abuse their power to fulfill their selfish agenda […] Being victims of this admin, it is important to vote. It is only justified to call on no more Duterte in 2022 and for voters’ education. The future of every Filipino is at stake],” UPB USC said. 

The COVID-19 outbreak in the Philippines has highlighted the Duterte administration’s incompetence. More than a year deep into the pandemic response, the Philippines recorded the highest single-day new coronavirus cases at 26,303, bringing the total pandemic death toll to 34,978 on September 11, 2021. Furthermore, the Philippine economy has sunk to its lowest since World War II, with the country’s national debt hitting PHP 11.6 trillion in July 2021 (READ: The burden of debt dependence on the Filipino people).

Empowering the youth

In discussing the importance of electoral participation during UPLB USC’s The Forum II: Voters’ Education and Registration, former UPLB USC chairperson Ronald Gem Celestial recalled what happened in the 2019 elections. Here, progressive candidates dominated mock surveys in colleges and universities nationwide but were not reflected in the results of the actual senatorial election.

“So ang naging analysis ng mga tao do’n is that kahit sinasabi natin na malaki ‘yung number ng mga kabataan, like one-third ng voting population ng mga kabataan, may certain population pa rin ang mga kabataan, like around 10 million ay non-registered youth voters. This is based on the analysis ng official data ng PSA [Philippine Statistics Authority] and COMELEC [The analysis that was made, even if we say that one-third of the voting population consists of the youth, there are still about 10 million youth who are non-registered voters. This is based on the analysis of the official data of PSA and COMELEC],” Celestial explained.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) shows that 73 million voters are eligible to vote in the 2022 elections. On August 23, Jimenez reported that 61 million have registered thus far, leaving 12 million individuals unregistered.

“This is a big deal because let us remember that in the May 2016 elections…16 million voters voted for President Duterte,” Senator Francis Pangilinan said, alluding to the 15 million unregistered voters back in February 2021.
Last June, UPLB USC posted an online survey for the upcoming 2022 elections, gathering 216 responses from UPLB students, with 84.7% of them registered voters, 15.3% not yet registered but planning to do so, and none having no plans to register at all. [P]

Photo by Pola Rubio

Layout by Mich Monteron

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