By Harvey S. Keh
IN the last two weeks, two very telling survey results conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) was released. The first survey showed that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's satisfaction ratings have continued to plummet with a -38% rating as compared to -31% last June. The other survey which was also conducted between September 18-21, showed that among all aspiring Presidentiables, it was Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III with a huge 60% rating whom the people overwhelmingly chose as the best possible leader to succeed our unpopular President. In past SWS surveys where Aquino's name wasn't included, no other Presidentiable has actually received more than 35%.
Aside from the growing disgust of people in our present leadership, the two surveys also show that one of the most important qualities that Filipinos from all walks of life are looking for in our next President is his or her moral and ethical fiber. Aquino is the only son of the martyred former Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, Jr. and the well-loved former President Cory Aquino, two known icons of good governance, ethical leadership and democracy in our country. The younger Aquino is now seen as the anti-thesis to the present leaders of this administration which has been swamped with seemingly unending graft and corruption charges and several political scandals including the infamous 1 Billion Peso Fertilizer Scam and the NBN-ZTE Broadband deal.
Moreover, if you look closely at the SWS Survey, you will notice that in June 2009, there were18% of Filipinos who were undecided on whom to vote for. Three months later, in the September 2009 survey where Aquino was part of, this number was drastically reduced to 6%. This shows that with Aquino's entry into the Presidential derby, more Filipinos now have a clear choice on whom to vote for in the 2010 polls. In my own personal experiences as a college teacher at Ateneo de Manila University, many of these undecided voters are young Filipinos who like many of us are desperately longing for genuine and lasting change in our country. These young Filipinos aged between 18-35 years old comprise more than 40% of our voting population and if united can actually swing the tide in favor of its chosen Presidential candidate. Unfortunately, many of these young Filipinos have yet to register given that the deadline for voter registration is fast approaching on October 31,2009.
It was therefore timely that Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan's Register and Vote (RV) Movement together with Aksyon Kabataan and Kaya Natin! recently called on the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to extend the voters registration beyond October 31 given the spate of calamities that our country went through the past few weeks. I am sure that recent developments in the political sphere of our country has brought about a renewed sense of hope and reform that has encouraged more first time voters to take the time to register and vote for the right leaders in 2010. Let us hope that the COMELEC will give these young voters a chance to shape the kind of future and country that they want to see. In 2010, let us make sure that the voice of the Filipino youth be heard not only in the streets and the internet but more importantly, in the polling stations.
Besides, it's their future at stake here, right?
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Harvey S. Keh is Director for Youth Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship at the Ateneo School of Government.