24 07 2009

In order to demonstrate the very essence of democracy in a democratically-chartered society, there should be an election that will faultlessly represent the voice of each sector—the urban poor, professionals and the youth. This consensus of every stakeholder is so much crucial so that the chosen leader will speak in behalf of all.

The youth comprises a huge majority of our voting population. And they are known as the most expressive, loud and provocative in terms of fashion, passion and conviction. Hip and trendy social artifacts in form of clothes, music and the like give voice to the submerged emotion deep-seated in their soul. Aside from being expressive, the youth is also known for a shared angst in civilization–one for all, all for one. An individual vote can also be the block vote of all the youngsters in a community.

The electoral power of the first time voting populace is enough to proclaim our next mayor, governor, House Representative, Senator, and President. However, this huge potential is not fully-encouraged. Every election time, millions of youth were disenfranchised and put into trash because of a lack of extensive information and education program of the Commission on Election (COMELEC) in order to reach those in the far-flung areas.

COMELEC lacks in drive to succeed in touching colleges, universities, locales, Sangguniang Kabataan chapters and every point where the youth meet and share interest. The October 31 deadline given by the said agency for registration is yet to be known by students who cannot lend time because of their studies and other busyness.

If the youth is apathetic and cynical of the changes a single vote can do for a nation, we can blame it to the same apathy of the agency mandated to manage election and registration. Instead of motivation, first time voters receive nothing but shrugs, resulting to lethargy. Instead of a maximized youth power for a fair, honest and well-represented election, they remain unheard, silent and dead.

There is news that the COMELEC says that 25 million out of the 48 million registered may have to register again for the biometrics data. According to Senator Francis Pangilinan, “This should have been made known earlier. The commission should know the significance of the 2010 elections, and do their utmost best to ensure smooth electoral process.”

Also, there are places in the country like the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) where first time registrants opt to find safer places to evacuate than register for elections because of their war-stricken situation.

From information dissemination to long queues in the registration, everything is catastrophic. And if the COMELEC failed in the very first phase of the electoral process, that is, info drive, the youth cannot go on to the next stage of queuing and voting.

If democracy is salient in the sustenance of compromise and consensus in a society where individual lives are important, then a program for info and education dissemination must be designed by the Commission on Election. For a fair appointment regardless of race, religion, age and socio-economic status, we go for a wide drive for political literacy!

Contributed by Francis Bautista, 4th year Communication Research Student from Polytechnic University of the Philippines, a member of the Movement for the Advancement of Student Power and the First Time Voters’ Project