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Philippines

Church group urges Filipino youth to vote in next election

Poll watchdog wants young people to register early so as not to miss out on next year's presidential race

Church group urges Filipino youth to vote in next election

The Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting is calling for young people to register early for presidential polls slated for 2022 in the Philippines. (Photo: Unsplash)

A Catholic-based group that campaigns for honest and clean elections says the Philippines’ fate as a nation lies in its youth.

As such, the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) urged young Filipinos on Jan. 26 to register to vote in the next presidential election in 2022.

The PPCRV is the citizens' arm of the Commission on Elections, which has set Sept. 30 as the last day for new voters to register ahead of next year's polls.

“We are calling on the youth to register to vote. You are the hope of the motherland. Do not be late registering,” PPCRV executive director Maria Isabel Buenaobra said in a radio interview.

She said voting is a civic duty every Filipino must do to be a responsible citizen.

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“Please, to all first-time voters, please do your civic duty and be counted in next year’s election,” Buenaobra said, reacting to reports that 2020 saw a low number of people registering to vote.

She urged people to register well before the September deadline. “Please do not wait until the last day. If you have the time, register online, please do not delay. There is so much at stake … it is a time for change,” she added.

The PPCRV also advised repatriated Filipino overseas workers to seek government assistance in becoming eligible to vote while back in the country.

“Please register here in the Philippines before the end of September. If you are planning to stay in the country until 2022, you need to be registered here, otherwise you cannot vote,” she added.

Churchgoers backed the PPCRV’s call, saying more young people should seek electoral reforms.

“Youths should not only oppose government policies in the streets. We should also seek reform within the system itself by casting our votes and by guarding them,” student Alan Gregorio told UCA News.

He said that if people were seeking reform, the upcoming presidential election would be the best way to do so.

“If we wish to oppose [President Rodrigo] Duterte, what other way is better than to elect a person who is his opposite? We need a person who is a man of his word. Someone who values life,” Gregorio said.

He was referring to the possibility of a close ally of Duterte running in next year’s polls as a president can only serve one six-year term, according to the constitution.

Manila apostolic administrator Bishop Broderick Pabillo said real reform is not just in the system but within the person.

“It is the people that need to be reformed, not the system ... It [the country] will be transformed if we have transformed leaders and transformed citizens,” said the bishop in a recent homily during a Mass in Manila Cathedral.

“We all long for the transformation of our beloved Philippines. We believe that this transformation will not be brought about by any change of the constitution or by any foreign direct investment.” 

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