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Every Vote Counts

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The National Youth Commission (NYC), a government agency in the Philippines, has been addressing global and national problems by encouraging and empowering the youth to be part of the solution.

City visits, specifically university visits, are among the things NYC commissioners do to reach out to the youth. Last Aug. 15, NYC Visayas Commissioner Jo Jan Paul Peñol and NYC Commissioner-at-Large Jose Sixto “Dingdong” Dantes III went to Dumaguete City for a forum about elections and climate change.

In the forum, Peñol talked to student leaders about the importance of the youth in the Philippine elections in 2016. What Peñol said is true: the youth population could definitely make a difference in the 2016 elections.

According to Philippine Statistics Authority, the voting age population (18 years old and over) last 2010 was 55.5 million, around 60 percent of the household population in the country. Six out of ten in the household population are also of voting age. In the 2.6 million newly-registered voters, 80 percent are the youth.

Because Philippine elections are fast approaching, individuals who desire to run for different positions in the government are starting to “spray perfume” on their credentials thru campaigns and political ads. One of the main campaign strategies is to reach out to the poor and illiterate. Politicians would opt for vote-buying; they give money, food, and other freebies to them. These tactics make the people vulnerable to bigger problems in the future. They may have received something to alleviate their problems now but what about tomorrow?

The Functional Literacy, Education, and Mass Media Survey (FLEMMS) aims to determine literacy rate in the country every five years. It showed that 11 million Filipinos lack functional literacy which, according to UNESCO, is the level of reading, writing, and calculation skills sufficient for a person to function in a given community. Meanwhile, 4 million Filipinos have no basic literacy last 2010, which means a lot of Filipinos can barely read or write, let alone vote wisely.

It is believed that they are the usual people falling in the trap of voting for the wrong people, but even the literate vote unwisely, too. Apathy usually makes them either not register themselves or let election period pass without voting (for those who are registered). This makes the less fortunate a dominant force in voting.

In Silliman, student politics has always been interesting in terms of campaign strategies of political parties. Sadly, just like in the nationwide setting, not all Sillimanians exercise their right to vote. Students also do not bother knowing the students who run for positions well enough for them to vote for the right people.

The Weekly Sillimanian (tWS) believes that as early as now, Sillimanians should have the desire to participate not just in Philippine politics, but also in the student politics. Students should be less apathetic and participate. Then, be sceptical of political promises.

tWS also commends NYC for reaching out to student leaders not just from the student government of each respective university, but also to student leaders from other organizations. The student leaders are the ones their fellow students look up to. They should not just preach about being a part of change; they should walk the talk by honoring their promises.

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