By Arra Perez | ABS-CBN News
MANILA — The Department of Education (DepEd) on Friday urged young voters to cast their vote in the upcoming elections, noting their “potential power” to influence the country’s future due to their numbers.
In a virtual voter education session for senior high school students, Education Undersecretary Alain Pascua defined "youth vote" as an "umbrella term that refers to voters between the ages 18 and 35."
"Sa pamamagitan ng pagboto, nabibigyan ang kabataang Pilipino ng kapangyarihang magpasaya kung paano patatakbuhin ang ating bansa," Pascua said.
(The Filipino youth has the power and decision how the country would be run if they cast their vote)
In his message, Adolf Aguilar, chief of DepEd's Youth Formation Division, said the youth’s vote has the power to influence the elections, as they comprise around 37 percent of the entire electorate based on Comelec data.
"This big chunk of voters really hold a potential power that can greatly influence the outcome of our national and even local elections… Key issues tackled in every election directly relate to matters that affect all of you - your future employment, the services you get to enjoy, an honest and people-centered governance, and quality education,” according to Aguilar.
Meanwhile, Lope Santos III, director of DepEd's Bureau of Learner Support Services, urged the youth to remain firm and to not be discouraged by issues hounding the elections, such as vote buying and politics.
"Marahil, narinig niyo na rin, 'E nabibili naman ang boto. Kung sino ang mas mataas ang presyo, iyon ang mananalo.' Pero maaari rin ninyong panindigan, 'Hindi ko ibebenta ang aking boto, tatayo ako sa aking prinsipyo, subalit igagalang ko ang kagustuhan ng mamamayan."
(Maybe you have also heard that votes can be bought. Whoever gave the highest payment will win. But you should stand firm on your principles and promise that you will not sell your vote and you will respect the will of the majority)
YOUTH WILL DECIDE
Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez also underscored the significance of the youth’s vote by citing voter statistics during the 2019 elections, where the youth voter turnout reached over 22 million, or 35 percent of the total.
"In 2019, iyong pang-12 senador ay kumuha ng 14.5 million votes lang. Balikan natin iyong 2016, iyong 2016, 16 million lang nagka-presidente na tayo. Paano pa kaya iyong 22 million?" Jimenez explained.
(In 2019 the 12th senator who clinched the seat had 14.5 million votes. Let’s go back to 2016, we were able to elect a president with 16 million votes. How about 22 million alone?)
"Sinasabi nito na… nasa kapangyarihan ninyo ang mag-shape or humubog sa darating na gobyerno natin. Ang mananalo ay ang sasabihin ng kabataan, katulad ninyo, na dapat manalo."
(This means that you have the power to shape our next government. The youth will decide who will win in next year’s elections)
New voters must be 18 years old on or before the May 9, 2022 elections. They must be a resident of the Philippines for at least one year and in the place wherein he or she plans to vote for at least six months before the elections.
Jimenez clarified that those who registered for the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections are automatically transferred to the regular list of voters once they reach 18 years old.
When asked if there will be a debate for presidential, vice presidential, and senatorial candidates for the 2022 elections, he answered in the affirmative.
"Yes, definitely magkakaroon naman ng debate. Hinahanda na namin ngayon 'yan. That's one of the things na talagang hindi palalampasin ng ating chairman ngayon at ng commission in general, na kailangang magkaroon ng debate."
(Definitely we will have a debate. We are preparing it already. We will not let that opportunity pass because it has to happen.)