CFA Print Materials Bolster PPCRV’s Voters’ Education Drive

May 30th 2010

Our national hero Jose Rizal appearing in a komiks story to advise today’s Filipinos on the urgent reasons why they must vote in 2010? This happens in a primer for young voters entitled Your Vote, Your Country and You, produced for the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) by the Communication Foundation for Asia (CFA). If he were alive today, says the Jose Rizal character, he would expose our social ills, just like he did then. But he reminds us of the crucial difference in our situation now: “In my time, we couldn’t vote. We were powerless and voiceless. You now have the power we didn’t have then.”

The primer describes the true political, social and economic status of the country and the importance of people’s participation and constant vigilance. An article by PPCRV chairperson Henrietta de Villa emphasizes the key role that young people can play in the May polls. In addition, there are articles about the new automated voting system, and how to spot and report election cheating. The primer also contains an original board game, which was developed by CFA, called The Race to Malacañang. The game teaches readers to evaluate candidates by examining where they stand on various issues, such as those related to the economy, labor, energy, education, foreign affairs, land reform, health, women’s and children’s rights, and the environment. Some 32,000 copies of the primer have been distributed by PPCRV and CFA to schools, church groups, NGOs and voters’ education volunteers.

On top of this, CFA produced for its partner PPCRV a cartoon poster promoting the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machine. Titled The Rise of the Machines, the poster is an introduction to the computer-based voting machine that will make its debut in this year’s election. The advantages and ease of using the PCOS machine are described in a manga-type story that would appeal to a young audience.

CFA and PPCRV believe that the May 2010 election would be a crucial point in history, which could determine whether the country “sinks or swims.” PPCRV’s call for “clean, honest, accurate, meaningful and peaceful” election has taken on more urgency. To make this happen, CFA and PPCRV have targeted the youth – who make up more than half of the voting population. A responsible and engaged youth sector – focused on platforms and issues, rather than on trivials and quick rewards (i.e., bribes) – could change the influence of “guns, goons and gold” that marked past elections.

CFA’s editorial staff strongly believe in the power of one person’s involvement. They recall one scene from the movie Lions for Lambs, when college professor “Doc” Malley (Robert Redford) confronted his student, Todd Hayes. Todd was bright and formerly politically active, but lately truant and disengaged. When Doc probed for the reasons, Todd said there was no point in education. The Establishment was corrupt anyway and nothing would change it.

“Rome is burning, son,” Doc told his young ward, “and the problem is not with the people who started it. They’re past irredeemable. The problem is with us, all of us, who do nothing…who just fiddle, who try to maneuver around the edges of the flames.”

“You think it’s better to have tried and failed, than failed to try?” the student asked. “Well, what’s the difference if you end up in the same place?”

“At least you did something,” the teacher replied.

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