Student leader underscores youth's role in 2022 elections

In today's world, young voters are crucial because young people are engaging with politics more than ever.

A first-time voter registers at the Commission on Election (Comelec) office in Pasay City on Wednesday (March 10, 2021). The poll body said some 1.3 million eligible new voters are expected to register for the 2022 national elections. (PNA photo)

According to data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) and Commission on Elections (Comelec), 40 million Filipinos ages 18 to 35 are eligible to vote in 2022.

"As youths, which make up a substantial proportion of the voting population, we have a huge role to play in the upcoming election and that is to vote for comprehensive and competitive leaders," Jandeil Roperos, National President of the National Union of the Students of the Philippines (NUSP), said during the E-Heras: The Power of Youth Vote webinar over the weekend.

"It is important that every youth is aware of what is happening in our society, in our country, and practice our right to vote. Because in this way, we can vote for leaders who will respond to the health and economic crisis faced by our country," Roperos said in Filipino.

The webinar, which aims to highlight the importance of youth participation during elections, was organized by the University of the Philippines (UP) Harong, an organization of UP Diliman students from Camarines Sur, Naga, and Iriga.

Roperos noted that the youth can shape or shift public opinions through its influence in social media and have the potential to significantly impact the outcome of elections.

"Because information is easily available online, today's youth are socially and politically aware. Because of that, everyone can share their opinion on social media. People are noticing our advocacies and calls because we are able to make them trend on social media," she added.

"Our role is huge, because we are the ones who shift public opinion. We have a lot of energy, we are enthusiastic, we are progressive, and we are open to new ideas."

Young Filipinos composed 37 percent of the entire electorate. 19.6 million Filipino youth voted last 2019.

In 2022, more young Filipinos will be eligible to cast their votes. With that, Roperos is encouraging her fellow youth to support patriotic and progressive candidates who "advance the agenda of the people and the youth."

She also asked her fellow youth to encourage others to also take part in the national elections.

"Let's not get tired of influencing or educating our fellow youth. Let's not antagonize them, but understand where they are coming from. Let's explain to them that it is our right to vote and we must maximize it by electing progressive and competent leaders," Roperos said.

The Comelec in April said that 2.6 million first-time voters have already registered for the 2022 elections.

The agency is hopeful to reach its target of 4 million first-time voters before the registration ends on Sept. 30, 2021.