In time with the 2022 National Elections, the University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU) conducted the 23rd Episode of OPEN Talk featuring the discussion on the roles and responsibilities of public officials, voter’s rights, and the implications of voting and not. It was held on 4 May 2022.
The event featured Atty. Maria Ofelia “Ofie” Leaño, Special Counsel at Disini Law, Policy Officer at the Digital Freedom Network, and Legal Policy Officer at Technology, Law and Policy Program, College of Law, University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman, as the guest speaker. Asst. Prof. Juvy Lizette M. Garvacio, Program Chair of Master of Public Management, Faculty of Management and Development Studies (FMDS), UP Open University (UPOU) moderated the event and Asst. Prof. Ria Valerie Cabanes, UPOU Faculty member and Program Chair for the Master of Arts in Nursing program, served as host.
Atty. Leaño highlighted the right of suffrage or the people’s right to vote. As a democratic country, the people of the Philippines have the power to elect government officials or government positions through voting to represent them.
In the hype of the current election campaign season, there are still a lot more registered voters who are still undecided about choosing the right candidate to vote for. Based on the recent statistics of the Commission on Election (COMELEC), there are 60 million registered Filipino voters. While some of them may veto this right, there are still implications of not exercising their right to vote. According to Atty. Leaño, a vote of one showcases solidarity, and collectively creates an impact to a greater cause—electing leaders of the nation.
While those who run for government positions have duties and responsibilities to perform when elected, voters also have duties to perform—to conduct research about the rightful candidate to vote for that will impact the country and its peoples’ lives for the next three to six years.
Atty. Leaño concluded the event with a reminder for voters to ensure that they researched the candidate well before voting regardless of their political parties.