IN ANTICIPATION of the 2016 national elections, the UST Central Commission on Elections (Comelec) is set to launch an extensive voters’ education program in the University.

The AKTIBOTO (Aktibong Boto ng Filipino) Election Hero Training Program (EHTP), which aims to be “a catalyst for meaningful social change through responsible voting,” will train young community leaders in conducting a five-hour community voters’ education program.

Comelec Vice Chairperson Raymond Naguit said the University initially wanted to focus on Thomasians, but decided to open the program to outsiders.

“Ang target talaga naming mga partner schools ay mga lesser known schools, ‘yung mga [schools na] nasa provinces sana, outside the National Capital Region,” Naguit said in an interview with the Varsitarian.

This academic year, the Comelec will conduct a screening process for applicants to the program. Those who will be selected will go through the EHTP curriculum, which will have four clusters, namely: Konsepto ng Demokrasya at Representasyon, Proseso ng Eleksyon at ang Makabagong Media, Ang Aktibong Paglahok sa Eleksyon at Pagbabantay ng Boto, and Paglilinang ng Kakayahan para sa Pagpapalaganap ng Adbokasiya.

AKTIBOTO will also sponsor a “clean election” songwriting contest, a “value-mmercial” contest, and an election advocacy essay contest.

Naguit said the Comelec was eyeing partnerships with the UST Simbahayan—Office for Community Development, National Service Training Program, Office for Public Affairs, Office for Alumni Relations, Human Resource Department, Department of History, Department of Social Sciences, Research Cluster for Cultural, Educational and Social Issues, Department of Political Science, Department of Legal Management, Department of Communication Arts, Department of Languages, College of Fine Arts and Design, and the Conservatory of Music.

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“By principle, okay na [ang AKTIBOTO] sa Office of Public Affairs, they’ve been very supportive. Ngayon kasi ini-involve rin namin ang faculty through the different departments, para [University] initiative siya,” Naguit said.

“Sana mag-participate ang mga kabataan [because] one-third of the voter population comes from the youth. Ang boto ng kabataan ay pwede mag-dictate ng magiging resulta ng eleksyon,” he added.

The project was informally launched on Aug. 7 at the Buenaventura G. Paredes, O.P. Building, with the signing of a memorandum of agreement between the Comelec and its partner organizations such as the Central Student Council and the Student Organizations Coordinating Council.

“We will be tapping professors and those working for Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) and National Comelec [to help facilitate the sessions of the program],” Naguit added.

The official launch of the AKTIBOTO program will be on Sept. 11 at the Quadricentennial Park.

It will run until May 2016.

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