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Be counted, young voters urged

By Kristine L. Alave
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 06:26:00 11/26/2008

Filed Under: Eleksyon 2010, Youth, Politics

MANILA, Philippines?Young first-time voters could make or break a presidential candidate?s chances in the coming elections, with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and poll watchdogs anticipating an increase in their number by 2010.

At the launch of the youth voters? registration drive called ?Bagong Bida, Be the Change? at the Comelec headquarters in Manila Tuesday, National Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) Chair Henrietta de Villa said they expect an increase of two million youth voters added to the estimated nine million who participated in the 2007 midterm elections.

With young voters numbering 11 million, De Villa said they could be a formidable bloc in 2010. Around 13 million voted for Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in the 2004 presidential election, she added. ?If you have 10 million votes, you already have a base. It would be difficult for your opponents to catch up.?

If a candidate gets the majority of the youth vote, he or she can easily win the presidency, De Villa said.

?I?m telling the youth that they can install a President in Malacaang, if they vote responsibly and if they vote as a group. In the United States, they were the swing vote. They really made a difference.?

De Villa, who is also chair of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting said that registering as a voter is the first step to being a responsible voter.

?We advocate that voting is both a right and a responsibility and it starts with their decision and duty to register,? she said.

Starting Dec. 2, the Comelec will set up satellite offices in various schools nationwide to help Namfrel and the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting encourage young people to participate in the electoral process.

De Villa and Cristina Cabral, University of Santo Tomas public and alumni affairs director, said they are encouraging the youth to make informed choices on whom to vote for.

?In the 2010 elections, the change is not just in the face of the elections, but also in the quality of the candidates who will be voted into office,? De Villa said.

Cabral said a UST survey on youth attitudes on politics revealed there was a general sense of ?apathy? toward politics among young voters.

The school?s participation in the Bagong Bida program, she said, should ?educate our students to become responsible and mature voters leading into 2010 and hopefully, for the rest of their lives.?

Teofisto Elnas, director of Comelec?s election and barangay affairs department, said the poll body will install two machines on the UST campus on Dec. 2.



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