Eight months before the 2013 elections, UPLB has started a campaign for good governance and truthful elections through a forum, “The Next Step Before 2013: Reforms in Election Laws” last September 5 at the NCAS Auditorium.
Organized by the Office of the Chancellor and the College of Public Affairs and Development in partnership with the Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE), the forum aimed to spark the interest and proactive stance of UPLB’s constituents in the upcoming congressional and senatorial elections.
Atty. Luie Tito Guia, LENTE Executive Director and the main speaker of the forum, discussed LENTE’s vision for a legal framework in the Philippines that would push for an “inclusive, accountable and transparent” election system, which in turn would inspire public trust in democratic elections.
“It is important for us to realize a credible election,” Guia said. According to him, reforms should be done to several laws, such as the overseas absentee voting law, voter registration law, automated election law, and other laws related to election accountability.
For instance, as Guia discussed, the indigenous peoples in the country do not have enough access and knowledge for them to fully exercise their rights to vote, unlike the overseas Filipino workers who can vote through the Internet.
Another issue lies in the use of the PCOS machine where Guia noted, “what we gain in efficiency, we lose somehow in transparency.” He said that there should be a balance between efficiency and not losing the transparency of elections.
Atty. Rona Ann Caritos, LENTE Project Officer, also introduced LENTE as an organization to the audience. She presented their vision, mission, objectives, activities and institutional partners. She also invited UPLB students to join their vast pool of volunteers.
LENTE is the first and only non-partisan, nationwide network of lawyers, law students, paralegals and other trained volunteers engaged to do election work.
“Dapat magkaroon ng consequence ‘yung mga flying voters para matuto yung iba at ‘wag gumaya,” Caritos stressed when she presented LENTE’s objective of pursuing criminal and administrative cases against violators of election laws.
Dr. Oscar Zamora, Vice-Chancellor for Instruction, gave the welcoming remarks where he challenged the audience to “make some effort in guarding the votes.” “Democracy is not for spectators,” he emphasized. “There should be a concerted effort by Filipinos to elect the right leader,” he added.
“I hope we all take part in this crusade, [by] being iskolar ng bayan para sa bayan,” Zamora furthered.
Prof. Aaron Laylo from the Department of Social Sciences (DSS) acted as the reactor of the forum. He encouraged UPLB students to take the opportunity to exercise “giving back” to the country by volunteering as election watchdogs/monitors.
Dr. Agnes Rola, CPAf dean, closed the forum with an inspiring message, saying “let me revise LENTE’s tagline, ‘nation building starts here,’ with ‘nation building starts with us’.” Rola also pointed that UP students should embody the “change” that they want to see in society.
Mr. Mike Lopez and Ms. Charmaine Galano, psychology instructors from the DSS, emceed the event.