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Mapúa University Central Student Council hosts Mapúa Voter Education Forum 2022



In celebration of the Mapua University 97th foundation anniversary, the Mapúa University Central Student Council, in conjunction with partner organizations, hosted a forum advocating youth involvement in the next national elections on January 28, 2022, from 9:00-12:00 NN.


The online forum, titled "Mapúa Voter Education Forum 2022," spotlighted guest speakers, including a legislative staff from Senator Grace Poe office - Mr. Lucian Dioneda; Dr. Julio Teehankee, a full-time professor and research fellow of political science and international studies at De La Salle University; and Dr. Antonio G.M. La Vina, Ph. D., Dean of the Ateneo School of Government. The Mapua Central Student Council, Council of Organizations, and Council of Presidents collaborate with its partner organizations - The Lance CSJL, The New Builder, PUP College of Political Science and Public Administration, and Mapua Radio Cardinal - have made this event possible. Furthermore, in acknowledging the whole event, Nicole Pagdatoon – a Civil Engineering student; Angel Gabrielle Fudoling – Chemical Engineering student; and Hanna Carillo – a Technical Communication student, hosted the Voter's Education Forum 2022.


During the introductory remarks, Dr. Reynaldo B. Vea, President/CEO of Mapua University, stated that this is a crucial event since it will educate many Mapua students who are first-time voters about their voting rights and responsibilities. Additionally, it will address the ethics of voting in our society and the ability to interpret information mediated by technology. The broad socio-economic background will aid us in selecting our leaders in the following years. Dr. Vea emphasized that elections are a pillar of democracy and that clean and honest elections result in stable administrations. Elections with a high level of citizen participation also result in stability. "Questions about the integrity of the process lead to unstable governments," said Dr. Vea, reminding us that this is not merely a theory but a hard-earned lesson worth remembering. He concluded his introductory remarks by reminding us that this periodic exercise of voting, which will significantly impact our lives for the next six years, binds us all together as a democratic society and one nation. The following parts will expand on the guest speakers' wisdom regarding elections and voter education.


We Are All Candidates: An Unconventional Voter's Education Session



To begin with, the first speaker of the Voters Education Forum 2022 was Mr. Lucian Dioneda. Mr. Dioneda has been a legislative staff with the office of Senator Grace Poe for eight years now. He was involved in 3 campaigns of the aforementioned senator, namely the senatorial election in 2013, the presidential election in 2016, and the senatorial re-election in 2019. He is an advocate for agenda-based politics. He discussed the first part of the forum entitled, "We Are All Candidates: An Unconventional Voter's Education Session." The reason for the title is because, according to Mr. Dioneda, the candidates are not the focus of the talk. It is the job of the candidates to convince the voters to vote for them.


"This isn't your usual voter's ed session," Mr. Dioneda stated. He felt that the traditional voter's education session delivered counterproductive outcomes. Thus, he discussed the limits and problems encountered by voter's education, such as the assumption of unbiased guidelines in choosing a candidate (yet everyone has biases), the implication of "uneducated voters which is a stereotype, and the assumption of a one-way relationship between the "educator" and the "voter." Each and every one of the voters has unique views and encounters regarding politics.


The speaker then proposed a thought experiment that places the voter in the shoes of the victorious candidate. As a voter, the individual should be aware of the political power and constraints that the winning candidate may face if elected.


"Are you familiar with the roles of the president?" he posed. Mr. Dioneda proceeded to discuss the multitude of roles of the president and concise descriptions of each role. First, he began talking about the Chief Executive role, which is the "full control of executive departments, bureaus, and offices… he/she shall ensure the faithful execution of laws." Second, he spoke about the Commander in Chief role, which is the power and control of the Armed Forces in the Philippines. Third, the Head of State role was also mentioned, which states that the president is "the country's sole representative with foreign nations and also chief architect of foreign policy." Mr. Dioneda also cited a situation in pursuing an independent foreign policy in the context of the West Philippine Sea. It is important to take note that the president has the ability to convince and negotiate, not impose on the Philippine Congress.


The speaker has also raised important questions to contemplate upon, "What issues are important to you? What changes do you want to see? Which direction do you want to take the country?"


Notwithstanding the matter of who wins the election, all of the candidates will face the same difficulties. However, some problems will be prioritized over others. Some solutions may not satisfy the voter. That's why it is crucial for the voter to support the candidate whose opinions and judgments align with his or her. Another factor to take into consideration is keeping their promises if elected. The voters should follow the same procedure for the other positions, including the vice president position, twelve senators, one district representative, and local government positions. Most notably, consider checking out the 1987 Philippine Constitution.


The Decision-Making Process:

  1. Identify the mandate of the position sought.

  2. What would I do? What matters to me?

  3. Study the candidates.

  4. Decide, campaign for your chosen candidate, and vote for them.

“Paano kung wala kang napupusuan?,” he asked. Focus on the issues that truly matter. Analyze the candidates using the "multiple streams" model of public policy, which has three streams, namely the problem stream (all of the problems encountered by society), policy stream (different possible policy solutions), and political stream (changes in the political systems).

Furthermore, the voter can still participate in politics after the elections. Even though your chosen candidate does not win, you will still have a purpose in politics regardless of who is in power.

At the end of the day, the primary actor during elections is the voter, not the candidates. This includes the principles, complications, matters, plans, and directions for the country.


Q & A Portion:

Q: "How would you be able to advocate for our candidate that they are the "it" choice for the role?”

A: "I think that compared to past elections, the 2022 elections will be more democratic in a sense that everyone already has a social media account, and social media actually makes it easier for people to talk about a certain candidate, and to talk about the issues, and the policies which are being prioritized by the specific candidate. For example, it goes back to the way I've discussed it earlier. First and foremost, you have to figure out the issues and the policies which are important to you, and then, you have to talk about those issues and policies using the means which are available to you, so social media is good. If you have a Facebook account, you can use it to reach out to your friends and family members."

Q: "What are the toughest barriers to helping the Filipino focus on real authentic issues instead of personalities and what you call the political acrobatics?"

A: "I think the way that the media really covers elections focuses a lot on the latest political movements to them, and it's very rare to see for the coverage of elections to really focus on the issues, and policies that matter. I think that change really has to come from the ground… to start with us demanding for an electoral process which focuses on issues and policies."


Dynamics of Philippine Presidential Elections



In pursuit of providing every Mapuan a knowledge on how the Philippine Presidential Elections work during the Post-EDSA revolution, Dr. Julio Teehankee, a full-time professor and a research fellow of political science and international studies at De La Salle University-Manila, discussed the "Dynamics of Philippine Presidential Elections" in the second part of the Voters Education Forum.


In his introduction, Dr. Teehankee said that the upcoming 2022 election would be crucial, knowing that the Philippines is about to exit the COVID-19 pandemic era. The former president of the Philippine Political Science Association (PPSA) also added that reviving the economy and building a post-covid society will be one tough challenge for the coming of a new President.


"These are daunting challenges that really need a very committed, very dedicated, and experienced leader who will lead us out of this crisis that we have been experiencing from the past years." Dr. Teehankee noted.

Dr. Teehankee also mentioned the importance of knowing the dynamics of the Philippine presidential election to understand how the presidential elections have been conducted in the Post-EDSA period and how different the campaigns are from the past to the present.


The DLSU professor also stated some pointers on how Philippine politics work, especially on political marketing setup. He said that political marketing combines two disciplines, namely political science and marketing.


"Political marketing offers a more pragmatic framework for thinking about electoral campaigns." the professor said.


Meanwhile, Dr. Teehankee also noted that political strategists are operators on the ground where they look at the electorate as a consumer market that can be segmented and targeted.

He noted that the two elements are essential pieces of modern election campaigning that have been used not just in the Philippines but also in other parts of the world.


The Push. The Pull

"While we share some characteristics of other functioning electoral democracies, we have peculiar characteristics when it comes to Philippine elections." the notable professor said.

It is either you push, or you pull.

During the discussion, Dr. Teehankee noted the two crucial factors in winning electoral votes are the push and pull factors


According to Dr. Teehankee, the push factor is the organization that will deliver the votes to a particular candidate. On the other hand, the pull factor is a characteristic where we attract voters to a candidate.

He also noted that the push factor is also known as the command votes, while the pull factor is the market votes.


The political science and international studies professor further elaborated the concept as he discussed how these strategies work during a political campaign. He noted that command votes are blocks of votes that are gathered and delivered to the traditional networks such as political machinery. The professor remarked that command votes are easier to deliver by gate keepers, which can be in the form of political dynasties, war lords, and the likes.


Dr. Teehankee also said that the votes coming from the ethnolinguistic groups are the most reliable votes for the national candidates. They are also considered as the most secured votes for a national candidate.

Meanwhile, the professor also discussed political machineries. According to Dr. Teehankee "machineries are specialized groups or vehicles that are mobilized by politicians to get a vote." He exemplified the government as one big political machinery.


On the other hand, ground wars were also discussed by the DLSU professor, where political caravans were conducted to capture the votes of the communities or places they visited.


Dr. Teehankee also discussed how the pull factor is conducted, which can be in the form of the air war. Air war is one of the approaches to winning an election. This is in the form of broadcast media. Moreover, he also discussed how the image, issue, and message affect a candidate's popularity. The combination of the three increases the awareness of the people to a certain candidate, thus giving a sense of popularity.


The professor also discussed push and pull marketing. According to Dr. Teehankee, the push and pull marketing is shaped by the internet or digital politics. The rise of the push and pull marketing gives birth to netwar where social media is the new venue of electoral campaigns.


Dr. Teehankee also talked about how Narrative plays a vital role in the election. "Narrative has become a game-changer in winning an election." he said.


The History

Dr. Teehankee continued his discussion by talking about how the previous Presidents of the Post-EDSA period won the election. According to the political expert, the five presidentiables won by different factors through the past election years.

  1. Fidel V. Ramos - Government machinery

  2. Joseph Ejercito Estrada - Popularity

  3. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo - Political Machinery and Command Votes

  4. Benigno S. Aquino III - Narrative

  5. Rodrigo R. Duterte - Market Votes

The professor also gave insights into the current status of the 2022 Philippine Presidential Elections. He also said this election is peculiar because the president does not have a government-endorsed candidate.


Moreover, this year will also be the 50th year of Martial Law, and there is a chance that the president will be another Marcos.


He also discussed the characteristics of the aspiring presidentiables running for the position. Dr. Teehankee also talked about the surveys conducted by the Social Weather Station (SWS) and the OCTA Research.

In his final words, he reminded the Mapúans that there are 31.4 million voters in the age group of 18-40 years old.


"The future depends on you." Dr. Teehankee said.


Q & A Portion:

Q: "As students voting for the first time. How do we safeguard our votes? What assurance can we get as voters that the integrity of our votes will not be compromised?"

A: It is more secure today since the previous elections. He answered that it is much dangerous to vote in the past than voting today. He also said that he has been voting since the 1980s, but it is much different than today.




Ethical Obligations of Voters – An ethical approach on voters education




For the last guest speaker of the forum, Dr. Antonio "Tony" G. M. La Vina, Ph.D., Dean of the Ateneo School of Government, and a senior fellow on climate change and Energy Collaboratory Director of Manila Observatory tackled the topic of identifying credible sources and the significance of educated young voters.


Dr. Tony started his discussion on a briefing on what will be happening for the next two weeks. He mentioned that there will be multiple forums and a presidential debate to look out for. He advised that watching/listening to these forums will help the voters have a grasp of the presidential candidates when it comes to their mastery of issues and alike. Dr. Tony also talked about the qualifications of the presidential candidates and the standards that the voters must establish for the candidates. "I think the standard for the president and all officials should be the highest standard of integrity," he added.


He then proceeded to talk about the country's issues, stating that the youth should be concerned with these issues as it will have an effect on their future. As for the presidential candidates, Dean noted that issues such as natural calamities that will happen in the succeeding years are what the candidates should be answering, and not only give generalities.


Moreover, Dean also walked the viewers through the current state of the elections, specifically mentioning the surveys and polls and which candidate is winning in what region. In the Q&A portion, he mentioned that even though a certain candidate is low on the polls, they may have better means than the ones dominating. He also added that the main battlefront of what to look out for is the advertisements and social media, mentioning that the youth should be careful of misinformation and fake news that spreads through different social media platforms. Because of this, Dean is a Chair in a movement called "Movement Against Disinformation" that is composed mostly of lawyers, that sets up legal challenges to the media platforms that post disinformation and fake news.

Furthermore, Dr. Tony introduced some ethical obligations that the voters should follow:

  1. Register to vote.

  2. Listen to the debates and forums even if you have a candidate in mind.

  3. Look out for more information about the candidates to make an informed decision. With the information you gathered, share it with peers and families. Disseminate it through social media and join group discussions.

  4. Do not sell your votes. If you see someone selling their votes, call them out and ask why they are accepting money.

  5. Vote! This then poses a question, "who should you vote for?" Dean says that you should vote for what your heart tells you, but you have to look at the bigger picture - for instance, the polls. Dean added that you should choose the best; not the lesser evil, but the best who can win.

  6. Lastly, from Dean's point of view, regardless of who will be the winner, he will support the winner as long as it is an honest win. He will work with that winner to have a better country, as long as the winner governs right and properly, and good for the future.

Q& A Portion:

Q: "Do you think it is premature to publish election survey results ahead of the campaign season? and would this affect of the people."

A: "No. Election surveys does not affect voting preferences. Election surveys guide campaigns, but it really does not impact [preferences]. This is about free speech and academic freedom."


Q: "How do we fight misinformation on social media especially its very accessible. Do you believe that it significantly affects the choice of people in voting? Is there a way to make social media companies liable for misinformation that greatly affects our country"

A: According to Dean, on an individual level, he advised that you should call them out if you see someone spreading fake news. Also, it is important to fact-check where there are various credible organizations and sources that do so. Along with this, Dean urges everyone to do their research. He also restated about the movement he is part of that poses legal challenges, where it results in fake news and misinformation being taken down.


To end, Dr. Tony emphasized that whoever wins as president, he will continue to fight for human rights, disinformation, climate change, and climate justice.


Vote for a Better Future!


At the end of the forum, the upcoming 2022 presidential election candidates were introduced. Before that, Mrs. Ma. Christina Valerio presented certificates to the guests' speakers. To sum things up, we learned that voter education is essential. Voting is another duty that falls to the citizens. Although it is not mandated by law, it is a critical component of any democracy. To represent the people's interests and their beliefs, citizens elect leaders to represent them. Elections demand that all citizens, men and women equally, be educated on their voting rights, their state's political structure, and the dilemmas they are being challenged to resolve. The importance of voter and civic education cannot be overstated in post-conflict countries, where political situations can be fragile, and elections can significantly impact the future of nations. Voters' ability to weigh the pros and cons of various candidates and issues is critical to the fairness of the election results. Voters' choices may be tainted by decisions based on incomplete or incorrect information. Being apolitical constitutes negligence in any form. We must keep in mind that our vote is the key to our future.

Co-Writers:

Carl Andres

Sean Canapi

Doreen Emen


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