Vote Pilipinas, the official voter registration information campaign of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), held the second of its three-part town hall series on July 30, 2021, which aims to educate Filipinos to register to vote. Over various online platforms, the Magparehistro Ka Town Hall, in partnership with Smart Communications, gathered COMELEC officials and youth representatives to appeal to those living in the Visayas region and to the younger generation. The virtual event took place just as we hit the two-month mark on the deadline to register for the 2022 national and local elections by September 30, 2021.
The featured keynote speaker was no other than COMELEC Commissioner Aimee P. Ferolino, who spoke in the local dialect and reminded those in the Visayas that registration was a precursor to voting. This was preceded by opening remarks from Vote Pilipinas founder Ces Rondario, who initially started the campaign as a passion project. COMELEC was also represented by Director Frances Aguindadao-Arabe, who presented the latest numbers on voters in the Visayas region. From her report, COMELEC recorded a total of 893,448 voter registrants from Regions VI, VII, and VIII from September 2020 until July 24, 2021. Also heeding that call to register were Election Officers Krishna Athena Elardo, Omar Sharif Mamalinta, and Dainty Calagos, who were ready to answer any questions on the registration process and data. It was also revealed that those in the Visayas regions need not travel far to register, as one can now register at the following Robinsons Malls: Robinsons Place Ormoc, Robinsons Place Cebu, Robinsons Cybergate Cebu, Robinsons Place Dumaguete, Robinsons Place Bacolod, Robinsons Place Tacloban, Robinsons Place North Tacloban, Robinsons Place Roxas, and Robinsons Place Antique.
Appealing to the youth was host, speaker, and Miss Cebu 2016 Raine Baljak, who said, “We must fight long and hard for what we believe in our own way, like a drop of water into the vast ocean. Voting is our right to be heard, and when you vote, you're voting for the people who come before you and who come after you.” She, too, raised some of her personal questions on voters’ registration. Joining her in this case was a roundtable of youth leaders, including Hannah Felix of Abot PH, Carlo Bais of the University of St. La Salle Bacolod Student Council, Janneloise Baylon of the Union of Progressive Students, Jet Luga of Global Shapers Cebu, and Enniss Pareja of Global Shapers Iloilo.
During the program, Vote Pilipinas had announced its newest partners, with some representatives speaking on why they had chosen to partner and what this cause meant to them. The evening capped off closing remarks from Aguindadao-Arabe and the release of the second Magparehistro Ka video, plus announcement of the Magparehistro Ka Challenge, which incentivizes newly registered voters by awarding them with weekly prizes after they post about the importance of registering.
The Vote Pilipinas Campaign is a passion project executed by a team of like-minded individuals driven by the desire to contribute to impacting change in the Philippines. It is a non-profit and non-partisan initiative designed to increase the number of voter registration. With both an online and offline approach, the campaign aims to provide accessible and verifiable information to ensure that Filipinos are updated with news concerning the upcoming 2022 elections. This campaign will run until the elections in 2022 and it aims to target the first time voters and other unregistered voters by providing innovative ways to encourage people to register, and to vote.