Putting people’s power on paper: New multi-stakeholder coalition Samahan para sa Tunay na Eleksyon sa Pilipinas (STEP) launches campaign on voter registration and civic participation

For Release,listanayan,STEPCoalition June 30, 2015 4:18 PM

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

MANILA, Philippines (June 30, 2015) – Exactly one year from now, Filipinos will witness a new president taking oath. How we get from this point at present to that point in the future is going to determine how we will progress as a nation for the next few years.

 

Coalition Champions of the newly formed Samahan para sa Tunay na Eleksyon sa Pilipinas (STEP) believe it is imperative to choose good leaders for positive changes to happen, and the first step to achieving this is through voting with the ballot. STEP is a multi-stakeholder coalition organized to inform, empower and engage Filipino citizens about ongoing voter registration, the importance of biometrics and the power of proactive participation in the upcoming 2016 National and Local Elections.

 

STEP’s Coalition Champions are national government agencies and civil society organizations who will implement the #ListaNaYan Campaign, aiming to ensure that anyone eligible to vote gets to do so in 2016. They are: Commission on Elections (COMELEC), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC), National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA) from the government; and the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP), Caucus of Development NGO Networks (CODE-NGO), Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan (SLB), CBCP-National Secretariat for Social Action (CBCP-NASSA) and Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE) from the non-government sector.

 

“Filipinos need to be reminded that participation in the electoral process — from  voter registration and validation to monitoring the election count — can make significant and long-term impact on solving systemic issues that affect our daily lives,” says Atty. Rona Ann V. Caritos, acting executive director of the Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE), which serves as the Secretariat of the STEP Coalition.

 

#ListaNaYan campaign aims to inspire proactive civic participation

Perception of Philippine elections vary from festive to dangerous, depending on the locality’s political climate. Voter’s participation in the elections is likewise affected by external and personal factors, including lack of information about how to go through the process, inefficiencies and issues met while undergoing registration and validation, and personal reasons like lack of resources and time to show up at the local COMELEC office or voting precinct on Election Day. Others would simply say they already lost their interest in the elections or any form of civic participation all together.

 

STEP Coalition’s #ListaNaYan campaign wishes to minimize, if not eliminate, these factors through the expertise and commitment of its Coalition Champions. At the center of the campaign is the metaphor of paper, pertaining to the ballot as a primary symbol of freedom and power of the people. And yet another undeniable force influencing the elections is money, implicated in rampant vote-buying and vote-selling and the diminishing sanctity of the ballot.

 

“Papel,” the Filipino for paper, also takes the form of “mapapel” which denotes greed for attention, entitlement and power, and the root of the colloquial word, “epal.” When used as a verb, “pumapel” means to take on a role. The campaign plays on all these rich metaphors and encapsulates it in one clever slogan: “Nasa’yo ang papel, ikaw naman ang pumapel!”

 

The Coalition is set to distribute a package containing campaign materials like educational videos, radio advertisements and print collaterals, so local government units, civil society groups and community leaders nationwide can join in the movement.

 

Mandatory biometrics needed to vote in 2016

The Coalition’s efforts are inspired by Republic Act No. 10367 or An Act Providing Mandatory Biometrics Registration, which was passed on 15 February 2013 to establish a clean, complete, permanent and updated list of voters through the adoption of the biometrics technology.

 

With the passage of R.A. 10367, voters who fail to validate their registration status via biometrics (positive identification of the individual such as photograph, fingerprint and signature in digital form) on or before 31 October 2015 shall be deactivated. When a voter is deactivated, he or she would be unable to vote in the 2016 National and Local Elections.

 

When voter registration resumed on May 2014, Director James Jimenez of the Education and Information Department (EID) of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) said that around 9.4 million voters were still without biometrics. In an article published end of February 2015, Dir. Jimenez was quoted as saying that there are still 4.7 million eligible voters without biometrics.

 

Analyzing this figure and the status quo, there will be around 1 million voters who will end up without biometrics by October 31 (last day of registration). That means one million voters will be disenfranchised or will not be able to exercise their right to suffrage or vote for their chosen leaders.

 

The 2016 Elections can make or break the country in such that leaders voted at next year’s polls can propel the country forward or pull it back down. Every Filipino eligible to vote must be on board. Empowered with information and inspired by action, they can make informed choices about these leaders and can influence the direction the country moves toward.

 

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ABOUT STEP COALITION

Samahan para sa Tunay na Eleksyon sa Pilipinas (STEP) is a multi-stakeholder coalition that aims to ensure anyone eligible to vote gets to do so in the 2016 Elections, considered one of the most crucial electoral events in the country. STEP Coalition envisions a Philippines where empowered citizens influence the country’s future by making informed choices in a fair and truthful elections. STEP wants Filipinos to realize how important every vote is, and that together we could influence the direction our country moves toward.

 

For media inquiries, please contact:

Atty. Rona Ann V. Caritos, lente.philippines@gmail.com / 0917-6023228 / 0917-5760810

Rocel Ann G. Junio, STEPCoalition@gmail.com / 0923-3696398

 

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