Rock the Vote Concert Pushes For Youth Agenda

by Christopher Chanco

 

MANILA — With a bang and a drumbeat, the youth demand to be heard.

Independent musicians and mainstream artists from Karl Ramirez and Talahib  to Datu’s Tribe and Kate Torralba, cheered on by a crowd of young students as well as curious onlookers, took part in the call for clean, transparent elections in an event that lasted well beyond midnight on Friday, at Morayta University Belt, Manila. Poetry readings from members of KM-64 and other artists segued between band performances.

While appealing for donations for the victims of Typhoon Pablo in Mindanao, the Rock the Vote concert also called for the “youth agenda” to be put –  alongside the need to secure social, political, and economic rights for all –  at the heart of the May 2013 elections.

Making up a sizeable chunk of the country’s voting population, the youth are a force to be reckoned with, concert organizers insist, and have put forward their own agenda despite the apathy of those in power.

“One of the trademarks of the youth at this day and age is their seemingly unfaltering participation in concerts, particularly of the artists and bands they can identify with. But aside from being a venue for bands and performers to showcase their talents for a price, the concert can also be a venue for promoting social change and articulating the youth’s stance in issues of significance,” said Pauline Gidget Estella, spokesperson of Rock The Vote Philippines.

“In this concert, artists defined the contours of the youth agenda. What must a candidate’s platform contain for him or her to win the ‘youth vote’? Let us take note of the fact that in 2010, the youth comprised 54 percent of the total number of voters and 80 percent of first time voters,” she explained.

Organized by a network of youth groups, cyber start-ups like BlogWatch and WikiPilipinas, and other supporters, Rock the Vote Philippines has sought to promote clean, transparent, and transformative elections for the May senatorial race – and beyond.

Bringing attention to controversies over the credibility of the Automated Election System (AES), the network has urged the need for political transparency.

“We all know that there are several unresolved issues with AES, and the Comelec has been almost dismissive with the way it deals with these issues. These problems include the inability of Smartmatic to fix PCOS bugs, the lack of voter variability feature in PCOS machines, errors in transmission, among others. Transparency being our prime advocacy, Rock The Vote Philippines urges Comelec to resolve these issues immediately. Time is of the essence, with around only two months before elections,” added Estella.

Rock the Vote Philippines has also called for public vigilance to hold government officials to account.  This has been made all the more possible with the power of social media in the hands of individual citizens, Estella said, but efforts to push for good governance and transparent elections demand stronger forms of public pressure.  

“People will take pictures of violators and post them in social media sites (but) measures to ensure transparency should not be limited to this.”

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