[OPINION] What can you do besides voting?

This is a #PHVote newsletter sent to Rappler subscribers on May 3, 2019.

I am Raisa Serafica and I head MovePH, Rappler’s civic engagement arm. Our unit is in charge of growing a community of advocates through campaigns, trainings, events, and other activities. 

I mostly enjoy elections because of the community engagement and energy Filipinos display during this time. 

Comments sections could sometimes blow up as supporters of different camps exchange views. Every now and then, I would see woke Twitter users sharing their takeaways on the kind of leaders they want. Student organizations would conduct their own mock polls and voter education events in their schools and campuses. I enjoy these kinds of things because they keep my hope that our democracy still works.  

But, of course (and unfortunately at that), the engagement that we see is not always positive and healthy. 

As May 13 nears, we see more and more incidents of vote-buying being reported online. Misleading and fake posts that are meant to discredit and undermine the election process are being shared on social media. Instead of engaging in insightful debates, some supporters would spew hate and use ad hominem attacks. 

This brings me to my call: stay engaged and do it right. 

If you’re looking for an example, let me cite this group of 20 young, passionate campus journalists whom I met exactly a month ago. Coming from different provinces in the Philippines, they flew to Manila because they wanted to do more than just vote during the elections. These Movers, as we call them, wanted to amplify the issues in their areas by writing about their local elections. 

Like what Rappler news editor Miriam Grace A. Go said in a previous newsletter: 

[These Movers] are in a unique position because they not only provide a platform for the local voice that’s already there, or put the spotlight on concerns otherwise unknown outside their areas, they also understand how local issues can both shape and be shaped by national policies, and therefore by the vote the people will cast for candidates for national positions. 

What these Movers are doing and are planning to accomplish in the 2019 elections are great examples of civic engagement done right. They understand the unique position they are in and the opportunity they can seize by serving as local voices this election. Thus, they have risen to the challenge to be active movers this elections. 

If you are inspired by the way these young people are helping in their communities, here are ways you can do so:  

Describe the leader that you want 

What kind of leader do you want for the Philippines, for your towns and cities? MovePH is crowdsourcing what Filipinos are looking for in the senator, governor, congressman, mayor, and other local officials that they would vote for. We want voters to have a conversation on leadership and governance. Check this link to see how you can join the campaign and show #TheLeaderIWant through photos. 

Share results of campus mock polls 

Who among the senatorial candidates have made a positive impression to warrant the students’ votes? MovePH is collating the results of mock polls done in different universities around the country. Share the results of campus mock polls in your area and help us make sense of the youth vote. 

Report vote-buying incidents 

Make sure to guard your vote. Remember, vote-buying is not just giving or taking cash. The transaction takes many forms. You can report vote-buying in your area by posting online and using #VoteBuyingPH. You can also send us a message to MovePH or Rappler. 

Volunteer for poll watchdog groups 

Election watchdogs help establish the credibility of elections. Organizations like the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), the National Citizens' Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL), and the Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE) are looking for volunteers who can join them in election monitoring. 

Report election-related false information 

With the elections coming up, false information is bound to be rampant online. You can do your part in keeping the elections free of lies and disinformation by sending dubious URLs and links to factcheck@rappler.com. 

Rappler.com 

Raisa Serafica

Raisa Serafica is the Unit Head of Civic Engagement of Rappler. As the head of MovePH, Raisa leads the on ground engagements of Rappler aimed at building a strong community of action in the Philippines. Through her current and previous roles at Rappler, she has worked with different government agencies, collaborated with non-governmental organizations, and trained individuals mostly on using digital technologies for social good.

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