PPCRV urges youth to join ‘community effort’ for honest elections
MANILA, Philippines– With the youth comprising more than 18 million of the voting population in the Philippines, poll watchdog Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) on Wednesday, March 20, encouraged millennials to help champion clean elections.
At its youth ambassador launch at the Pope Pius XII Catholic Center, the PPCRV said it's gearing its efforts toward voters’ education for the youth and advocating clean, honest, accurate, meaningful and peaceful (CHAMP) elections.
“A big majority of our population would be considered the youth, and there are many first-time voters that are coming out in May 2019. We deem it very important to catch them and encourage them to vote,” said Myla Villanueva, PPCRV national chairperson.
More than 2.5 million Filipinos are registered as new voters during the last registration period, exceeding the target set by the Commission on Elections.
Ambassadors and social media influencers
The PPCRV ambassadors include former professional basketball player Chris Tiu, professional volleyball player Dzi Gervacio, television host Gretchen Ho, TV anchor Daniela Laurel, bar topnotcher Mickey Ingles, and PPCRV trainer Jayson Tabor.
“More than just voting, I think it really goes beyond this May elections. We want to encourage the youth or foster in them that attitude of being concerned for our country. As early as now, we want them to be aware of issues,” Tiu said.
With the youth being so connected to social media, the PPCRV hopes to reach out to them by tapping influencers that will amplify the many ways people can be involved in the elections.
“It's such a social media world right now. Every single post we do matters. We were thinking, the way to actually get the message across apart from the volunteers on the ground is for us to be promoting this and being the face of this initiative,” explained Laurel.
“These youth ambassadors have a following, mostly on social media.... Their followers will also take that up and repeat and share it and multiply it in their own sites,” said Ambassador Henrietta de Villa, PPCRV chairperson.
Although people can make noise online, PPCRV also urged people to do their part by translating their social media activity to offline actions.
“We can do social media, but if you don't actually go and cast your vote physically, all the words that we say are really meaningless,” Laurel added.
How to sign up as volunteer
Aside from voting, there are many other ways people can be active in the elections.
PPCRV said voters can join PPCRV’s voters’ education programs through their parishes or be among the trainers who will train and educate other voters. They can also be poll watchers or volunteers by going to their nearest parish or registering online.
“If they see that we are actively participating, then hopefully that will encourage them to do the same. It takes a lot of time. It'll take years, maybe generations, but it has to start somewhere. Hopefully it will trickle down to more and more people, and they'll eventually stand up and move out of their keyboards and vote,” said Tiu.
With social media being so accessible to the public, candidates have used these platforms for campaigning.
“Candidates can actually campaign for very little cost. You can campaign anytime even outside election season. That is how candidates are historically using social media now,” PPCRV executive director Maribel Buenaobra said.
This may also trickle down to Overseas Filipino Workers, whose votes may be influenced based on what they see on their social media feeds.
“One overseas Filipino voter can have a multiplier effect. The fact that Filipinos in the Philippines can send news about the Philippines and not even verify whether the news is true or not is one way to propagate and disseminate wrong information,” explained Buenaobra.
The PPCRV noted how disinformation on these platforms has become a way to disenfranchise voters.
“What we think about in the short period of time until election is how fake news can be used to disenfranchise voters. So this is where we need everybody's help to be truthful on disseminating information,” Villanueva said.
PPCRV highlighted that fighting disinformation requires a community effort, both online and offline, to help people make well-informed choices and be discerning.
“What we are watching out for and what we hope to achieve is a community effort amongst people to be guarding whether information about their election process on election day is actually true or not. I think it's a community effort and checking against one another,” added Villanueva. – Rappler.com
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