One of the things that make the Philippines stand out from any other nations is being a democratic state—and the right to vote is one of the facets of a democratic society, as this particular right is considered as a fundamental application of democracy. However, with all the controversies surrounding the political side of our government at present, a lot of people (especially voters) are now thinking twice if their votes are actually being counted. ‘Dagdag-bawas’ and vote buying are the most prominent issues surrounding our election process. The most recent, however, is the ‘Hello, Garci’ controversy which contains the president’s voice talking to the Comelec chairman while the ballots are still being casted.
Although the right of suffrage is practiced here in the Philippines, there are still a lot of Filipinos who seem to be unhappy with the way our politics is being run. And so, the focus of this article is about the perceptions of the voters regarding the country’s national elections—highlighting that of the first time voters. This article also aimed to find out how these first time voters view our electoral process and how or where they actually get this knowledge. And the result of the studies show that the youth voters rely on the television and their immediate associations—families, friends, or community—in their pursuit of knowledge about elections. Furthermore, it was revealed that the youth, in fact, view the elections negatively.
As a youth, and as a prospective voter, I must admit that I am one of those who actually have a negative perception about the elections here in the Philippines. I was actually a witness on how the country survived the series of impeachment trials, people power revolutions, politicians’ filing of cases after losing in the elections, and so on. And definitely, these events only leave a negative impact on the Filipinos, including myself.
Aside from this, I very much agree to the fact that the television and personal networks of a person affect his or her level of knowledge and his or her attitude towards election here in the Philippines. Personally, I also look up to the television as a source of information regarding the candidates aiming for a position. Because as a youth, I am not really that very familiar with Philippine politics, more so about the profile of each candidates. And so, I use the television in order to familiarize myself with them and their platforms, as well.
Personal networks are also one of the factors given which influences voters on whom to vote or who can make the greatest change in our country. As I have noted earlier, this may include ones family, friends, or the immediate community. True enough, they are the right persons who can provide us, first time voters, with information about the candidates. Moreover, they are the ones (especially the parents or the elderly) who have the previous experiences about elections and they are more knowledgeable about the right persons to occupy a certain position.
If I may quote Dr. Jose Rizal, “ang kabataan ang siyang pag-asa ng bayan”. With the challenges that our country face through the years, it is just right to place the responsibility on today’s youth because they are the ones who are most affected by the breakdown of our economy… and our country. A lot of young people, including myself, feel the responsibility to bring this country back to its stature that our grandparents experienced.
It’s not yet the end of the world. There are still a lot of things to be done, a lot of steps to make, and a lot of efforts to give for this country to continuously prosper. Maybe this is a call both for the candidates and for the youth.
For the candidates, they should be true to themselves. The Filipinos are intelligent enough to know who says the truth and who are only lying. They should not be self-centered and hungry for money and fame. It is time to change the Philippine government and to prove to the Filipinos that there’s still hope in building this country.
And for the youth, this is the chance to speak up and let their voices be heard. The future of the whole nation is in their very hands and they must take the courage to vote whomever they think is deserving of the position so as to achieve our much needed change. They should not waste the right to vote that was given to them. They should be very critical in choosing their bets and they must be mindful of the needs of the country so that they will only choose the one who best fits the criteria. Lastly, they should not take for granted their right to vote because it is their future that is at stake.
Let us all vote wisely and together watch this country grow into a more prosperous and better place to live in.