Home / Lifestyle / The crucial role of millennials and GenZs this #Halalan2022

The crucial role of millennials and GenZs this #Halalan2022

The crucial role of millennials and GenZs this #Halalan2022

The crucial role of millennials and GenZs this #Halalan2022

Every year drawing to a close always has us titas contemplating on our holiday plans. This year, though, looks to be different. We, including and most especially the vocal millennials and GenZs, find ourselves debating not on Christmas gift choices, but on which people or groups to put in power in the coming years.

That’s right, it’s election season. The 2022 Philippine election scheduled in May, barely eight months from now, decides our next national and local leaders.

What makes #Halalan2022 different

Unlike with previous elections, we are months deep in a global pandemic this time. And for a country plagued by high infection counts and a low vaccine coverage rate, a physical election presents numerous challenges.

By September’s end, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) counted 63.36 million registered voters for the 2022 elections. And because the sign-up period was extended until October 31, this number is expected to rise.

Social media sites abound with stories of registrants, including celebrities, lining up early just to nab one of the limited daily slots in COMELEC offices and malls. We expect the same scenes to also play out on election day.

The question in everyone’s mind is: How then do we convince ourselves and other people to vote? And when we do decide to vote, how do we choose wisely?

I asked these questions out loud on a recent Pamilya Monday episode. University of the Philippines Department of Political Science analyst and researcher Dr. Aries Arugay, National Citizens Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) member and professor Albert Oasan, and NowYouVote2022 program head Josh Mahinay, and GoodGovPH founder Dexter Yang served as our panel on this hot topic.

What to expect on election day

Knowing what to expect on election day is vital not only for longtime voters like me, but also for first-time voters mostly comprised of millennials and GenZs. We still face a lot of unknowns about the standard procedures officers and volunteers will follow on election day, but we can expect the voting experience to change with the pandemic.

Oasan cited measures taken during the 2021 Palawan division plebiscite as a viable model.

“We have the usual efforts of people from barangay or school to maintain physical social distance on campus. They try to control ilan iyong papasok sa loob ng school grounds,” recalled Oasan. “They also made use of UV (ultraviolet) rays, a way of cleaning up or disinfecting. Ganoon din sa registration, may mga UV boxes. Of course, the usual alcohol here, left and right.”

The control to maintain social distancing presents another potential issue: Voter’s disenfranchisement. “Ibig sabihin nito, gusto mo nang bumoto on the day of the election. Nag-travel ka na. Balak mo nang pumunta sa school, and yet, ikaw ay napipigilan. Dahil ikaw ay napigilan, hindi ka na bumoto on that day.”

Some may use rigid health controls and other fake or sensationalized news to hold voters back. This is the reality of the coming election day. We can expect that it will not be easy, the challenge is to show up anyway.

Tapping the ‘digitally wired and interconnected' youth

As of September 11, COMELEC Chairman Sheriff Abas counted an additional 9,147,246 voters. Of these, 5 million are first-time voters. With many first-time voters falling between the ages of 15 to 24, the youth vote can critically affect how the elections will turn out.

If you’re in this group, you are likely part of what Dr. Arugay calls the “digitally wired and interconnected” generation that makes up almost half of the voting population. You have access to information beyond newspapers, TV, and radio. And you tend to engage fully in online channels, like social media, especially as the pandemic limited physical interactions.

“Kaya kung titingnan mo, most candidates would court on the votes of the younger generation, kasi alam nilang marami yan. And usually, these are the idealistic members of the population. They want change… at very observant sila,” Dr. Arugay noted.

Convincing the youth population to vote, thus, can be tricky.

“Mahalaga din po na yung approach natin is strategic,'' said Mahinay of NowYouVote22, whose group conducts guided discussions and creates content about issues relevant to the youth.

“Kung napapansin niyo po, yung 2019 to 2020 graduates, 2021 to 2022, mag-aabot yan sa job market,” Mahinay said, focusing on joblessness. “So when we talk to the youth, mahalaga na makita nila na gaano ba kahalaga na itong leader na ihahalal natin, merong siyang concrete plan about job creation, about the economic recovery plan, for example. We have to make it very personal sa kanila.”

Yang of GoodGov points out the need to reach out to communities where the youth belong. He notes that the youth don’t usually vote individually.

“They vote as a collective, and we’ve seen that in history,” Yang said. “Kami naman po sa GoodGovPH…narealize namin, hindi natin kailangan maghanap ng mga bagong organizers, kasi there are existing mechanisms. Nandiyan ang ating SKs (Sangguniang Kabataan).”

“We’ve seen in the past three months alone, sobrang daming SKs both in the federation level, the barangay level, na gumagawa ng paraan para makapag-register yung mga kabataan nila,” Yang shared.

“Kailangan dumami yung partners natin na sama-samang pupunta sa komunidad at hihikayat na bumoto.”

Partnership, collaboration, community efforts. Yes, that’s more like it!

Vote to speak up!

As the year arrives at its final quarter, an end to the pandemic looms ever closer. The 2022 elections then serve as a beacon for positive change. When we exercise collective action through the elections, we make our voice heard beyond social media echo chambers and closed chat groups.

So in the future, when somebody asks, “Ano ang ambag mo?” shouldn’t “I voted wisely” be one obvious answer among a list of concrete actions?

The voice of the youth is important. “The youth is really a force for global change,” Mahinay shared. “Let’s give our vote to someone special. Because with our current situation in the country, it will take a special kind of leadership to get us out of where we are right now and to truly take our country to the right path and to a better path.”

Please watch Pamilya Talk on Facebook, YouTube, and Kumu (@JingCastaneda – 5:30-7:00 p.m. Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday). Please share your stories or suggest topics at jingcastaneda21@gmail.com. You can also follow and send your comments via my social media accounts: Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Kumu.

Credit belongs to : www.philstar.com


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