With the national elections just four months away, educating voters has become more crucial as the COMELEC struggles to implement the first automated elections in the country. To fill in the gaps in voter education and help people make rightful choices in the elections, the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) conducted a forum at the Adamson University Theater last January 11, 2010 and invited the AdU community along CEAP and COCOPEA member schools to join.
The forum entitled Uniting for Clean, Honest, Accurate, Meaningful,
and Peaceful (CHAMP) Elections saw representatives from the Catholic Church and civil society groups come together to bring election issues forward. The forum had four objectives to achieve: To heighten awareness on issues and concerns related to the upcoming 2010 elections; to analyze recent political events from a socio-historical perspective; to reflect on post-2010 scenarios; and to encourage key educational sectors to be committed to achieving “CHAMP” elections.
Four distinguished guests gave the audiences their take on key issues. Prof. Bobby Tuazon from the Center for People Empowerment in Governance opened proceedings with Automated Elections: Automated Garci? A dig on the infamous “Hello Garci” brouhaha that was the mother of all election scandals, Prof. Tuazon gave an in-depth look on the proceedings of the nation’s first-ever computerized election. He also highlighted the significance of how the youth accounts for a significant percentage of voters, and how the voters should not harbor any false hopes about the automated elections being able to fool-proof the entire process.
Next speaker was Prof. Randy David from the UP Department of Sociology who offered four key points in making sure the elections will not be used to propel the current president to greater powers. His topic, Cong. GMA, Private Armies, Atbp.—Sari-saring May 2010 Issues, gave the audience a clearer look as to how GMA can strengthen her grip on power long after she leaves the presidency. Prof. David, who had abandoned plans of going against GMA in the congressional seat for Pampanga’s second district, gave four must-do actions for voters to make sure that the elections will bring the change the country badly needs.
Atty. Harry Roque next presented May 2010 Scenarios: Worst to Best. The renowned human rights and political advocate presented what could be the result of ill preparation and lack of transparency: automated cheating, or automated failure of elections. The crucial scenario is stressed in his remark, “Pabor kami sa automated elections. Hindi kami pabor sa automated failure of elections.”
Atty. Roque, former dean of the UP College of Law, also made a
personal revelation that he started his teaching career at Adamson’s College of Law. He says it was his stint at Adamson that opened his eyes to teaching, which would eventually lead to becoming Dean at UP.
Last to present was Bro. Clifford Sorita from the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV). Bro. Sorita presented the importance of suffrage from four points of view: social, political, ideological, and Christian. He emphasized that for the elections to work, and for the country to move forward, each Filipino has to put in the right people in the government, total involvement in the process, and vigilance in guarding the vote.
Proof that this year’s elections are as contentious as can be were the long lines behind the microphone during the open forum. Students and personnel from invited schools as well as from Adamson brought their concerns to the speakers, all eager to learn and find answers to their burning election questions.
The program started with an invocation by Sr. Teresita Bayona, SPC, CEAP Executive Director and followed by the welcome remarks given by University President Fr. Gregg Bañaga Jr., C.M., who is also the current vice president of CEAP. The perspective of the forum was then set by Msgr. Gerry Santos, President of Pasig Catholic College and CEAP.
The event was hosted by Ms. Rhodora Angela Ferrer, CEAP Deputy
Executive Director, while Prof. Alejandro Nueva of the Social Science
Department moderated the open forum. Yael Esperat