Inquirer volunteers all set to cover 1st presidential debate
Come Feb. 21, expect live updates not only from Inquirer’s journalists but also student leaders handpicked and trained to cover the first presidential debate since 1992 and the first ever held outside Metro Manila.
A total of 39 students from Capitol University, the venue of the first presidential debate in Cagayan de Oro City, were recently inducted as the first batch of the Inquirer Volunteer Corps, a program of the Inquirer Group of Companies that aims to empower the youth and ordinary citizens of the Philippines by covering and participating in events that influence the nation.
Among the volunteers are the editorial board of the Capitol Chronicle, the school’s official publication, and members of the high school and university student councils. The 39 were handpicked by the school administration.
The debate at Capitol University is the first of three legs spearheaded by the Commission on Elections in preparation for the 2016 national elections. The other presidential debates will be held in Cebu province in March and in southern or Central Luzon in April, while a debate for vice presidential candidates will also be held in March.
Reach the critical many
In the run-up to the national elections on May 9, other volunteer batches from schools in Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao will also be organized to cover the three upcoming Comelec debates and other important events.
“We want to reach not just the critical few, but the critical many,” John Nery, editor in chief of INQUIRER.net, told the volunteers during a training session on Feb. 15. The “critical many” pertains to the millions of ordinary Filipinos who, in a democracy, have the power to both elect and unseat the nation’s leaders.
The Inquirer taught the volunteers during the two-day training the basics of news writing, mobile journalism and how social media could be used for more than personal updates.
The Capitol University volunteers will aid the Inquirer in covering all angles of the debate, from the thousands of supporters of the presidential candidates and their parties to the reception and opinions of the people of Mindanao.
For most of the 39 volunteers, it will be their first time to cover an event of such magnitude. Since their training, the students have been hard at work preparing themselves for the big day.
“I’ve done my research. I’ve asked [my community], especially those from different barangays, about who they were supporting,” said Vic Mar Arconada, 17 years old and a business administration student.
Anna Abog, also a business administration student, said she looked forward to hearing the candidates’ platforms while covering the debate, especially as a first-time voter.
“I’m particularly concerned by the indigenous peoples living in the mountains and field,” she said.
Capitol University, formerly Cagayan Capitol College, is a private, nonsectarian school founded in 1971.
Follow @INQVolunteers on Twitter for live updates on the first presidential debate for the 2016 elections. RC
Note: The author is among the trainers of the batch of volunteers from Capitol University.