12M YOUTH VOTERS CAN DETERMINE 2013 AGENDA – BAM AQUINO
Benigno Bam Aquino, formerly a chairman of the National Youth Commission and the youngest senatorial aspirant at 35 years old, says that the country's "12 million youth voters can determine the 2013 agenda if they all register and make their voices heard."
Voter registration is ongoing until October 31, 2012. According to official estimates, up to 12 million voters are expected to take part in next year’s polls.
"People have said in the past that there is no such thing as a youth vote, but what many don't realize is that many of our national issues are actually youth issues," Aquino points out. "When you talk about education, jobs, poverty, hunger—it’s our youth who are most affected by them."
"So if we in the youth sector get organized and work more closely together, we can actually push for a youth agenda and make a large impact in the way the country is being governed. We can have a louder say on issues that affect all of us. But the first step is to register and make ourselves counted for the 2013 elections."
The younger Aquino, a dead ringer for his late uncle Ninoy Aquino, adds that Filipino youth are lucky because their right to suffrage is protected by the Constitution.
"Suwerte tayo dito sa Pilipinas dahil meron tayong karapatang bumoto, at may karapatan ang mga kabataan na maglabas ng kanilang mga saloobin. Kung titingnan natin ang ibang mga kabataan sa iba pang dako ng mundo, hanggang ngayon ay ipinaglalaban pa rin nila ang pagkakaroon ng demokratikong eleksiyon sa kani-kanilang mga bansa. Marami na ang nagbuwis ng buhay para sa kalayaan nating bumoto—sana ay magamit natin ito para talagang isulong ang pagbabago."
Aquino thus urges all unregistered youth to make use of the next two long holidays to register for the elections. "Bakasyon ho sa October 26 to 28, at puwede ring magpa-rehistro bago ang Undas. May pagkakataon pa tayong umuwi sa ating mga distrito para magparehistro. Ito ay maliit na sakripisyo lang kapalit ng pagkakaroon natin ng boxes para sa ating kinabukasan."