Cops, youths lead drive for fair electionsBy Maricar Cinco
Inquirer Southern Luzon
SAN PEDRO, Laguna—Campaigns to raise voters’ awareness in the province have kicked off—with gimmicks of all sorts.
Some 700 police officers and residents joined a 30-kilometer bike run organized by the Philippine National Police on Sunday in response to the national call for a SAFE (Secured and Fair Elections) 2013.
“This is to show the community that we in Laguna are for peaceful and fair elections. At the same time, biking [will] improve the health of our policemen,” said Senior Supt. Pascual Muñoz, provincial police director.
The bikers started from three points—Calamba City, San Pablo City and Sta. Maria town—and converged at the Laguna police headquarters in Sta. Cruz town for the signing of a unity pact among local candidates. Senatorial aspirants may officially begin their campaign period today while local candidates may do so on March 29.
In Los Baños town, a youth network called Rock the Vote Philippines launched its regional formation at the University of the Philippines (UP) Los Baños on Friday.
“Youth votes have their own thrust. We want to convene various organizations, formations, and individuals into a network for clean, peaceful and responsible elections,” said the group’s external affairs head, Kristel Anne Perlas, 22.
Perlas said the concept was inspired by the Washington-based Rock the Vote, a nonprofit organization that encourages youth voters through concert tours and social media. The two groups were not formally associated, however, she said.
Rock the Vote Philippines tapped UP, University of Sto. Tomas, Adamson University and De La Salle University for the series of mock elections and senatorial debates, as well as online bloggers’ network Blogwatch and WikiPilipinas, to provide the “unbiased” profiles of the candidates.
The group will also link up with the progressive National Union of Students in the Philippines and the College Editors’ Guild of the Philippines when it launches the campaign in Negros and southern Mindanao provinces.
It will remain nonpartisan, Perlas said.
Although Laguna is not in the list of 15 provinces identified by the PNP as “areas of concern,” Muñoz said lawmen would remain vigilant of election-related violence, particularly in
Sta. Maria, San Pablo and Calamba, where intense political rivalry is expected.