‘RV’ bus rolls off to reach youth voters

May 12, 2009

By: Niña Catherine Calleja
Philippine Daily Inquirer
May 12, 2009

MANILA, Philippines—A bus painted with as many colors as a rainbow Monday rolled off a parking lot in Taguig’s business district Bonifacio Global City on a nationwide mission: Persuade young Filipinos to register and vote.  

The bus was packed with youth volunteers who planned to travel through key cities and towns to deliver their message in time for the May 2010 national elections. 

With only five months left before the last day of registration on Oct. 31, the bus hit Metro Manila roads Monday and brought their campaign to places where students and young professionals were hanging out, according to Georgina Nava, one of the organizers.  

In the following weeks, the “The Register and Vote (R)” bus will travel to various parts of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.  

Its sides painted in bright colors with slogans like “Register and Vote” and “Ang trapo ngawa nang ngawa,” the bus was launched by the Ayala Young Leaders Alliance, YouthVote Philippines and First-time Voters Network.  

 Importance of youth vote

Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, one of the personalities behind the campaign, told some 80 young voters during the launch that there would be a significant change in the electoral system if the youth would start to think differently.  

 “There is a youth vote,” he said, referring to the first-time voters in the 2010 national elections—estimated at anywhere between 2 million and 5 million.  

He said the voters’ turnout in 2007—which showed only 20 percent of the potential youth vote had registered—was upsetting.  

“We can do more,” Pangilinan said.  

 Indie group

Pangilinan said that, according to surveys, three-fourths of the youth were not aware they had to register to vote. “The rest don’t have reasons to vote,” he said.  

Other advocates of the campaign calling themselves the “Indie group” are Rep. Riza Hontiveros-Baraquel , former Bukidnon Rep. Nereus Acosta, Naga City Mayor Jesse Robredo, writer Alex Lacson and youth leader and TV host Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV.  

Nava said the group wanted to instill in the youth’s mind that “their votes could change the political landscape in 2010 and beyond.”  

Last week, “The RV” had a dry-run in Lucban, Quezon, where the volunteers tried to catch the attention of people participating in the Pahiyas Festival. There, the volunteers gave briefings on the registration process. 

The idea of using the bus to reach remote areas came from Pangilinan’s 2007 senatorial campaign, Nava said.  

Jay Contreras, vocalist of the band Kamikazee who attended the launch, said he used to be apathetic, “but now, since I became a father, I began to think about my kids’ future.”  

Nava said other entertainers, like singer Kitchie Nadal and the rock band Parokya ni Edgar, would perform in a grand launch in Barangay Tatalon, Quezon City, on Wednesday.  

To reach a bigger audience, the campaigners will also tap the Internet through blogs, Facebook and YouTube.  

 Extend registration

Elsewhere, at a press conference, Kabataan party-list Rep. Raymond Palatino urged the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to extend the registration period to December, the original deadline the poll body had set.  

 “The youth vote is expected to comprise almost 50 percent of the entire voting population. Such is the influence of the youth that we can set the tone and agenda for 2010,” Palatino said.  

He urged potential presidential candidates to include in their infomercials calls for the youth to register.  

Since it is enrollment season, the lawmaker also urged college administrators to remind their junior and senior students about the need to register. With reports from Philip C. Tubeza and Rose Ann R. Samorin 


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