Register to vote, Pangilinan urges Filipinos on Ninoy Aquino Day

Aika Rey
Register to vote, Pangilinan urges Filipinos on Ninoy Aquino Day
More than 3 decades since the assassination of senator Benigno 'Ninoy' Aquino Jr, Senator Francis Pangilinan urges the youth to choose leaders who will fight for democracy

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Francis Pangilinan urged Filipinos to register to vote, as a way of honoring the death of senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr who fought the Marcos dictatorship.

In a statement on Wednesday, August 21, Pangilinan said that Aquino serves as an inspiration to fight for democratic principles in the midst of authoritarian rule. 

“Kaya dapat nating gamitin itong mga karapatang ipinanalo nila para sa atin. At magagawa lang natin ang pumili ng ating mga pinuno kung tayo ay magpapa-rehistro,” Pangilinan said.

(That’s why we must exercise these hard-won rights. We can only choose our leaders if we register.)

Voters’ registration will only be until September 30, even as President Rodrigo Duterte called for the suspension of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections which are originally scheduled fpr next year.

Citing Commission on Election figures, Pangilinan said that at least 7 million youth aged 18-34 were not able to register for the May 2019 elections. (READ: IN NUMBERS: Registered voters for the May 2019 elections)

Pangilinan believes that a strong youth vote can change the results of elections to their favor. (READ: Youth and elections: Is there such a thing as a ‘youth vote’?)

“Matibay ang ating paniniwala na nasa kabataan nakasalalay ang tagumpay o pagkabigo sa halalan. Ang kabataan, kapag binigyan ng kaalaman at kakayahan, ay isang mapanuring botante na may kakayahang maghalal ng mga lingkod-bayan na mapagkakatiwalaan, karapat-dapat, at may pananagutan,” Pangilinan said.

(We believe strongly that the youth vote can make or break elections. An empowered youth is a critical voter, and will be able to elect public leaders that are credible, worthy, and are with accountability.)

‘Continue the fight’

Detained Senator Leila de Lima, in a separate statement on Wednesday, said Aquino had inspired many Filipinos to rise up and peacefully overthrow the Marcos dictatorship.

“Isinakdal si Ninoy ng korte militar batay sa mga imbentong paratang, kabilang ang kasong subersiyon. Malinaw ang layunin nito: Ikulong, gipitin at patahimikin ang mga tulad niyang lider ng oposisyon,” De Lima said.

(Ninoy was convicted by the military court based on false claims, including a subversion case. It’s goal is clear: To jail, to oppress, and to silence leaders of opposition like him.)

The lady senator said Filipinos should continue Aquino’s fight, especially now that Duterte’s leadership is “reminiscent” of a strongman rule, she said. 

“Ang prinsipyong ito ni Ninoy ang nagsisilbing lakas at inspirasyon natin ngayon, sa panahong nauulit na naman ang yugto ng karahasan at pang-aabuso sa kapangyarihan,” she said.

(Ninoy’s principles serves as our strength and inspiration now, in a time where an era of violence and abuse of power is happening again.)

On Ninoy Aquino Day, President Rodrigo Duterte also said the late senator serves as a guide for protecting democracy. (READ: Robredo: ‘Find courage to claim freedoms Ninoy died for’)

Aquino, a prominent critic of the Marcos dictatorship, was assassinated in 1983 at the airport tarmac just as he alighted the plane. This inspired Filipinos to stage protests which culminated with the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution. (Watch Aquino’s undelivered arrival speech here.)

His wife, Corazon Aquino, was elected president in 1986. His son, Benigno Aquino III, also served as chief executive preceding Duterte. The Aquinos are part of the Liberal Party, including De Lima and Pangilinan, the ex-party president– Rappler.com

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Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.