University in CDO holds mock elections ahead of debates
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – As the contenders of the presidential race prepare themselves for the debate to be held at Capitol University here on Sunday, not far from the venue where the verbal showdown will be taking place, a Jesuit-run university had taken the initiative to conduct a mock election to determine how well the young voters knew the candidates.
For two consecutive days, the members of the Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan community lined up to register, had their finger marked with indelible ink, and took their turn in “voting” for their preferred local and national political bets.
Just like the actual elections on May 9, the simulated polls at XU also used digital means to cast their votes. The Atenean students, faculty and staff voted using desktop computers in two venues inside the main campus at Corrales Avenue last Friday and Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
A software was specially created for the mock election to speed up the whole process including the tallying of votes and publication of the result, said Sharon Mae Casiño, program officer for social activities of the Kristohanong Katilingban sa Pagpakabana-Social Involvement Office (KKP-SIO), the office tasked with facilitating the activity.
Casiño said the mock elections was just one of the projects initiated by Lihuk 2016, a coalition of civil society organizations, institutions and individuals advocating for voter education and people’s participation in governance.
Shown on the computer terminals were the lineup of candidates running for president, vice president, senator, mayor and vice mayor, and all the “voter” had to do was click on the box beside the name of their preferred candidate.
In a statement, KKP-SIO said there couldn’t be a right time for Xavier University to invite the members of its community to take part in the mock polls.
As the next national and local elections draw near, it said, XU is faced with an opportunity to engage in one of the most important democratic spaces our constitution provides.
“As members of a Jesuit institution and as mandated in our mission to build a just and humane society through educating and engaging the youth in meaningful venues for holistic formation, it is our duty as an institution to strengthen the position of XU in the promotion of the truth in practices like elections,” it added.
The university hoped that through the mock elections, “we may be able to foster that desire for active participation and open and critical pursuit of the truth as well as build the political maturity of our electorate in XU.”
KKP-SIP added it desired to send a more unified message as part of a larger community the right to suffrage XU has been afforded.
For Rose Nacague, a second year Psychology student and a registered voter, the simulation gave her the chance to get a feel of the elections as well as acquaint herself about the candidates and their platforms of government.
Nacague said she considers the election as a democratic exercise that should not be taken lightly by the voters.
She said it was commendable for XU to hold the mock polls as it will have an impact on their decision-making on political matters, “that as teens we are engaged this early, so our views on politics will change. It should not be an extension of showbiz or anything. Politics is serious business so we need to think of people who have something to bring to the table.”
Jim Acut II, a formator at XU, said the two-day event that started Friday aimed to awaken the sense of patriotism of the youth who do not take part in political activities such as the elections.
He added the university is a microcosm of the whole Philippine society as in the campus there are those who lead, those who involve themselves, and those who do not go out of their way to engage themselves.
“Not all XU students are apathetic, they just need a venue such as this (mock polls). We are hopeful that we can transform those who are ‘laidback’ and those who believe that the country’s situation is a hopeless case,” Acut said.
KKP-SIO said the results of the faux-election will then be tallied and published for the purposes of advocacy through its Social Advocacy Program. CDG