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Now that we're registered to vote, what's next?

By KYNESHA ROBLES Published Dec 17, 2021 5:00 am

Voter registration dominated news headlines and social media feeds long before aspiring candidates and running political parties did. Tense from the COVID-19 pandemic and with a lot at stake in next year’s elections, Filipinos urged each other to exercise their right and register to vote.

So now that we’re registered, what’s next?

Voting is a long-term decision; its impact long exceeds the six-year term. Almost everything — from the contents of Filipino history textbooks that we grew up with to the current pandemic response — has been shaped by preceding voters and elections, and whatever and however much we allot for this election will surely shape what will happen in the succeeding years.

Young STAR asked a few experts for their advice on how to navigate the campaign and elections season so we can be educated soon-to-be-voters.

Attorney Chel Diokno
Senatorial candidate and human rights lawyer

The DNA of heroes of the past resides in your DNA, the DNA of the young people. You’re never too young to be a leader in our country, and you’re never too young to contribute to building a just and humane Philippines. 

As both a candidate and voter, how do you go about choosing whom to vote for?

Decide on what criteria you will use to choose your candidate.Maganda kung mayroon tayong pamantayan, ‘no?

I have personal, four-pronged criteria that I follow: I look at the track record of the candidate. I look at the integrity of the candidate. I look at their love of country, because for me, ‘yong pagmamahal sa Inang Bayan, napakahalagang bagay ‘yan.And then I look at their platform.

What kind of leader do you aspire to be and what do you want to see from our next set of leaders?

I believe we need leaders who listen, who know how to consult the people. Leaders who understand that they do not know all the answers to the country’s problems, and therefore, they’re willing to hear what (the people) are suggesting.

Leaders who really are out (there), whose purpose in life as leaders is to help others, not to help themselves. Leaders who don’t accumulate wealth during their time in power, but rather empower other people, which is really the purpose of serving in government.

And leaders who really understand that love of country is not just words but actions, and that they must do everything they can, even put their lives on the line for our country.

What can you advise Young STAR readers for this campaign and election season?

Expect that there will be a lot of fake news and historical revisionism — even mudslinging — in the next few months. I hope that you can all be more discerning. ‘Wag tayo magpadala agad sa mga nakikita natin.

The youth have always been at the forefront of building a just and humane Philippines. From the time of Jose Rizal up to today, there’s an unbroken line of young people who have been fighting for our dignity and our freedom.

The DNA of heroes of the past resides in your DNA, the DNA of the young people. You’re never too young to be a leader in our country, and you’re never too young to contribute to building a just and humane Philippines.

Trishia Fernandez
Law student, University of the Philippines

It’s easy to be tricked by their social media image, their personality, or their dreams and aspirations. But track record is something that you can’t fake. It’s hard to pretend you did something that you actually didn’t.

What’s your personal process on deciding whom to vote for?

The first thing that I like doing is not actually looking at the candidates themselves, but knowing what the position actually requires.

For example, a mayor should be someone who is approachable for the people and is open with his constituents, and has good relationships with the locals. But with the Senate, which doesn't actually have to interact with people, it's more on their legislative duties. Can they write laws well? Do they have good policy-making decisions?

So the first thing I do is research all the roles and ask myself, what are the things that these roles need to have? What are the characteristics that they need to have? From there, that's when I look into the people who are running for these positions.

What are your standards in measuring the qualifications of aspiring candidates?

I think the important thing to look at is someone's track record. Look at the positions that they've held before and (decide) whether or not they did a good job when they were in their seat. And for people that have never been elected before, look at their line of work and if it coincides with what they're supposed to do. Whether what he has done already is relevant to what he's trying to do.

In casting one's vote, it's important to look at each candidate's track record.

It’s super easy to craft an image. It’s knowing what story to tell. It’s easy to be tricked by their social media image, their personality, or their dreams and aspirations. They could just have good scriptwriters. But track record is something that you can’t fake. It’s hard to pretend you did something that you actually didn’t.

What can you advise Young STAR readers for this campaign and election season?

It’s very easy to get swept up into national politics because it’s bright and flashy, but people should also be invested in local politics. Most young people don’t care about their Mayor or Konsehal. I was guilty of that growing up. I’ve always been interested in national politics, but honestly, local politics has more of an immediate impact on citizens.

Kirsten Navarro
Writer and director of The Lakambini

How do we navigate social media during election season?

It’s really hard to form an opinion with all these opinions coming at us from left and right. Social media is just reinforcing the biases that we already have, so it’s hard to tell nowadays. Not everything you see on social media should allow you to completely dictate your opinion.

We shouldn’t fall for PR that’s made to cater to the masses. Everything has an agenda and is a strategy to make them win. They cater to what you like or to your personality type. They’re still politicians, after all. They have a PR team behind them.

Look beyond their image, there’s a bigger picture behind that.

Carmen Zubiaga
Senatorial candidate and Founding Director of Women with Disabilities Leap to Social and Economic Progress

What can you advise Young STAR readers for this campaign and election season?

Be advocates, not just confrontational. You have to be careful. You have to be critical thinkers. You don’t have to choose a (candidate) based on their personality, but based on their ability and what they have achieved.

Ask yourselves, “Are there any concrete contributions”Kahit isa man lang, ‘no? If they only talk and focus on themselves and (whether) they are good,pero wala namang nagawa, you have to be critical thinkers about it.

Lisa Garcia
Executive Director of Foundation for Media Alternatives

Kahit hindi mo muna tingnan ‘yong candidates, but ask yourself first, ‘What kind of future do you want?’ That is the crucial question.

How large is social media’s impact on our country’s elections?

When you trace it back, we’ve been using technology for change in the Philippines. During the People Power Revolution in 1986, television broadcasting was seized by the government. But radio was used as a means of communication to let people know what’s happening and to invite them to act for change.

Definitely, social media will play an important role during the campaign for the upcoming elections. There is more misinformation, and that is what we have to look out for.

Of course there are fact-checking institutions, but we can’t always rely on them. I salute them for the work that they do. But when they fact-check, nangyari na eh. The event has happened, the fake news has already spread, and it has reached people. The information has already been shared many times.

We have to be critical of what we read.Hindi puwedeng maging tamad sa pagtingin ng mga information.

What can you advise Young STAR readers for this campaign and election season?

Kahit hindi mo muna tingnan ‘yong candidates, but ask yourself first, “What kind of future do you want?” That is the crucial question, not just for young adults but even for us adults. What kind of future do we want for our children and for this nation, and how do we get there?

It’s not enough that you’re registered to vote — you have to vote. But it also doesn’t stop therena after you vote, that’s it. Kung ang kandidato mo nanalo — lalo na kung ang kandidato mo nanalo — singilin mo siya. Ano ‘yong plataporma niya? Ano ‘yong ipinangako niya?

As citizens of this country, we have the right to question our officials.Hindi naman dahil sila ‘yongofficials, they’re above us.Pantay-pantay tayo. That is something we should do: monitor them, and question them as well.

John Dale Gumba
Vice mayoral chief of staff, Centro Escolar Integrated School faculty member, and media and information literacy teacher

‘Yong pagboto, isipin natin, na parang isinusulat natin ‘yong kinabukasan natin. I think that would really wake us up, na hindi pala ‘to hype  o trend  lang. 

How do we navigate social media during election season?

Social media just gives you a false sense of audience. It’s okay to voice out our concerns via social media, but let’s also participate in real-world endeavors. It is just a good way for us to start convening with people and drawing attention, but it’s not where we could materialize our actions.

Social media is not the best venue; the best venue is the actual world.

What can you advise Young STAR readers for this campaign and election season?

Shade the ballot as if you are writing your own future. ‘Yong pagboto, isipin natin, na parang isinusulat natin ‘yong kinabukasan natin.I think that would really wake us up,na hindi pala ‘to hype o trend lang.

Hindi pupwedeng, ‘bata lang ako.’ Kailangan ay, ‘bata pa ako, at marami pa akong magagawa.’