IT’S 12 days to Christmas, and 18 days to New Year. Everybody is looking forward to the holidays, almost forgetting (save for the politicians) next year’s election.

Come December 31 the Commission on Elections (Comelec) will close its Continuing Voters Registration for the May 2007 elections. I assume that a majority of eligible University students (myself included), given their truckload of school and extra-academic work, have yet to register. The thing is, the low turnout of voters registration among the youth has been going on for years, perhaps the reason why we keep on getting the same “rotten” people in government offices. Unless educated, enlightened voices are heard and counted, we can’t expect substantial change in our country.

Filipino citizens aged 18 years old by May 14, 2007 are eligible to register in their local Comelec office which is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. It won’t take so much of your time, but its outcome may mean six (or three) years) of torture and hell.

The US elections last month should teach the Filipino youth the value of voting. An American teen counselor listed five reasons, four of which I find applicable to young Pinoys, why they should vote:

The biggest election issues often directly affect the youth; Charter change, graft and corruption, board exam leakage, and the exodus of young professionals are just some of the current issues that affect the country and the lives of the young. In no time, we will be inheriting the outcome of the decisions our government is making. Don’t vote, let tra(ditional) po(liticians)s win back their seats, and you forfeit your chance of writing history for the good of your future sons and daughters.

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The only way democracy will work is through the active participation of its citizens; Although democracy has been brought back to the Filipinos after People Power I, we are still chained to poverty and underdevelopment. For democracy to be truly felt and realized, society needs to be free first of elements that prevent its people from living decent and productive lives. Election is the plainest exercise of democracy, but keeping it clean is another.

If you don’t vote, you have no right to complain about anything that has to do with the government; Young people love complaining about almost everything, make no mistake about it. In this country, where everybody has always something to say, it is irritating to hear from someone who is ignorant of the issues. By not casting your vote, you are depriving the country of your participation. It is like saying you don’t care how it is managed and ran.

Vote because you can; The right to suffrage is often taken by granted, especially by young people. While in some countries, people fight and even die for this right. As the saying goes, “You should vote because you can, if you don’t you may one day wake up in a country where you can’t.”

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In the middle of the 2001 midterm elections, then Comelec Chairman and now Civil Law Dean Alfredo Benipayo called most Filipino voters “immature.”

Speaking before a Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting conference, Benipayo said voters keep on making the wrong choices to their regret. He classified them into three categories: those who have no clear grasp of the issues, those who do not know the candidates, and those who are just typically apathetic.

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These are all simple self-explanatory terms that need no elaboration. Just be sure that come elections, you’re not one of them. Start proving that it by getting yourself registered. Happy holidays!

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