AS THE country is heading on another local elections on Monday, May 14, at least two multi-sectoral group leaders and a priest have urged the youth and first-time voters to be vigilant and wise enough in voting for their new sets of Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) and barangay officials.
“This is the first barangay elections in five years, the first SK elections under the new SK Reform Act. We hope that our voters take this opportunity to bring change closer to our communities and to enable our barangay and SK officials to be authentic and effective partners for change,” said Jude Acidre, leader of multi-sectoral group Tingog Sinirangan in Tacloban City.
“As they say, ‘all politics are local’ so can we also conclude that all good governance begins at the barangay level. I hope this becomes the measure by which we will choose the new set of barangay and SK officials,” he added.
While Acidre understood that first-time voters are surely excited to cast their vote, he reminded them to also vote wisely.
“Take the time to understand the issues at hand and see which candidate will bring a better quality of service to your community. Change begins when we bring in leaders who are committed to serve the public interest even before they get the position. Just as President Rodrigo Duterte would often say, the people and their welfare should come first,” he said.
Marissa Lerias of Kaya Natin! Movement also prayed "that candidates campaign on platforms of government and explain their vision and plans for their communities as opposed to the mudslinging and money politics."
"For the SK, it is important that they start with a good moral foundation. By that I mean, no to vote buying and being clear both to yourself and the constituents that you intend to serve on the reasons why you are seeking public office. Kaya Natin is anchored on three core values. We look for leaders who are effective, empowering and ethical," she added.
Kaya Natin! Movement, a non-partisan and non-political organization, advocates good governance and ethical leadership in the country since 2008.
Meanwhile, Catholic priest and award-winning writer Roy Cimagala said that young voters “should be always vigilant to ensure the integrity of the whole process and that everything be done in charity.”
He added that first-time voters should “exercise their right to vote conscientiously, doing it in the presence of God.”
“They should respect the outcome of the election, regardless of who win in the end,” Cimagala told SunStar in an interview.
In Eastern Visayas, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said that there are 2.84 million registered voters for barangay candidates and 1.17 million for the SK.
Of the 4,390 barangays in the region, authorities have tagged 284 barangays as elections hotspots. These identified conflict-stricken areas are located in Eastern Samar, Northern Samar, Samar, and Leyte provinces.
Among the region's six provinces, only Biliran and Southern Leyte are excluded from the list of elections hotspots.
The regional police and the Philippine Army’s 8th Infantry Division have deployed around 2,690 soldiers and policemen around Eastern Visayas to ensure the security of the elections. (SunStar Philippines)