Manila, Philippines – A day after the filing of the certificates of candidacy, the Young Public Servants (YPS) launched YouthVote Philippines’ (YVP) 2016 election theme “Boto Ko, Boses Ko! Bumoto nang Tama Pilipinas!” on October 17, 2015 at Ilustrado Restaurant and Café, Intramuros. This theme acknowledges the fact that indeed our right to vote is our chance to be heard in the society. It calls for every Filipino to choose our candidates wisely and to vote right, not just for one’s own good, but for the general welfare.
Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Commissioner Luie Tito Guia discussed Civic and Youth Participation on Elections, calling on young people to spur discussions on campaign spending. He emphasized that the use of money in politics and its impacts are some of the critical elements of elections that have not gained enough prominence yet. He further added that technology nowadays progressively equips youth voters with modern and better weapons to combat the recurring political problems in the society. This, he said, is in addition to the fact that technological advancements make information more accessible to a large fraction of the population. “If we really want the right and suitable leaders to be elected, do not just vote – campaign and engage everyone to vote wisely and responsibly”, echoed by Commissioner Guia.
National Youth Commission (NYC) Chairperson Gio Tingson likewise reinstated the importance of the youth agenda in the upcoming elections, in line with the campaign’s aim to push for an issue-based election. He said that statistics-wise, the 23-million strong young Filipinos can elect the next president, especially if the “captive vote” will be given importance. That is, if young people will come together and agree on the leaders they want to elect.
As part of the launch, YVP introduced the Voter’s Education Toolkit, an easy-tounderstand manual on voter’s education. It contains references on the basics of the electoral process including, among others, relevant laws, elective positions, responsibilities of each position and Election Day checklist. The toolkit also comes with a CD containing digital copies of voter’s education materials. During the 2010 election, YVP popularized the term “copy-left”, which was coined to be an opposite of copyright. This means that the Voter’s Toolkit may be redistributed for free without copyright infringement because the organization’s goal is to reach as many voters, especially first time voters, as possible and aide them in choosing the right candidate.
YVP also launched its CHANGE scorecard, a tool to guide the voters in identifying candidates who are Competent, Honest, Accountable, Non-biased, Good Governance Advocate and Empowering. The organization believes that said leadership criteria matter most apropos ideal leaders. A survey on the civic and democratic engagement of the youth was similarly introduced. It aims to measure the level of participation of the youth in terms of various social responsibility activities.
In addition, YVP launched the website http://www.youthvotephilippines.com, targeting to be an influential and credible source of youth perspectives. The website features a countdown to the 2016 elections and an array of priority issues derived from the Social Conversations conducted by YVP across the country. Social Conversations are small group discussions on local and national issues participated by the representatives of the youth sector. Its aim is to identify the primary concerns of the youth on the ground, in relation to the crafting of an inclusive 2016 youth agenda. For the coming months, YVP is set to make a comparative matrix of the 2016 candidates available to the public through its website. This is part of the organization’s campaign for informed voting. The survey and toolkit can also be accessed from the YVP website.
To seal the commitment of various national and local youth organizations present in the launch, YPS Program Officer and YVP Program Lead Richard Amazona headed the “Panata Para sa Bayan” that reflects young people’s pledge to encourage their fellow youth to vote for the right candidates and for the benefit of the country as a whole; to choose the common good over one’s personal interests. Commissioner Guia, Chairperson Tingson and YVP Lead Convener Natalie Christine Jorge then led the signing of the commitment wall, after which each attendee did the ceremonial voting using the YVP-constructed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) ballot where they were made to choose their top three priorities from the 17 global goals of the United Nations (UN). The UN’s SDGs serve as YVP’s framework for issue-based elections.
The following organizations were represented during the launch: AISEC; Akbayan Youth; University of Santo Tomas (UST)-Aktiboto; Ayala Young Leaders’ Alumni Association, Inc. (AYLAAI); College of Social Science and Philosophy-Bulacan State University; Filipino Liberal Youth (FLY); Filipino League of Youth Development Initiatives (FLYDev); iVolunteer; Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines (TOSP); Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (TAYO); Ten Outstanding Youth Organizations (TOYO); UST-The Political Science Forum (UST-TPSF); Koalisyon ng Mamamayan Para sa Reporma (KOMPRe); Philippine Leadership and Empowerment Alliance for Development (PH-LEAD); UST-Central COMELEC; Tugon-RESCUE; Kanlungan Pilipinas Movement; AMA Education Systems; National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP); League of Filipino Students (LFS); Group of Individuals with Sincerity, Transparency and Accountability (GISTA); Pilipinas Natin; Tamaraw Volunteers (TamVol); De La Salle University-Alyansang Tapat sa La Sallista; Rotaract-FAITH; and, Voice of the Youth Network (VOTY).
YPS is a group of young, dynamic individuals focused on promoting Good Governance and Democratic Citizenship among the Youth. One of its core program is YVP, started in 2008 as a call for a strengthened youth voter’s registration, education and empowerment. The YVP program aspires for the institutionalization of issue-based elections in deviation of the traditional personality-based and patronage politics in the country.
YPS has been going around the country to conduct various Voters Education campaign and Social Conversations. They started in April 2015 to convince young people from schools and communities to register for voting.