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Walkah Walkah 2014 seeks wiser voters

Aside from increasing the number of registered voters, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) aims to produce a new batch of wiser electorate who will participate in the 2016 elections. To find them, the agency kicked off its “Walkah Walkah” campaign.

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said they embarked in early voter education this year in a bid to properly inform the public on the importance of election involvement, and its “ill effects” when they failed to do so.

“[What COMELEC wants to happen is] for people to take the information and education we share with them seriously and to integrate those lessons in their decision making processes come election time,” Jimenez said in an interview with Manila Bulletin Online.

Walkah Walkah, Manila Bulletin, James Jimenez,

Comelec personnel with volunteers who joined the first day of Walkah Walkah Campaign in Laoag City. The program seeks to persuade voters to register for the 2016 elections. (Photo from Walkah Walkah Twitter account)

The election body, together with its Chairman Sixto Brillantes, Jr. and Jimenez, will walk across the country to persuade more than three millions new eligible voters to register, and 9.6 million registered voters to submit their biometric requirements in order to vote in the 2016 national elections.

The campaign, which kicks-off in Laoag, Ilocos Norte today and will end in Matnog in Sorsogon, also targets indigenous people and persons with disabilities (PWD), the sectors which commonly have low number of registrations.

“When one eligible citizen loses or gives up his right of suffrage, the whole democratic system is thrown off balance. And when that happens, the ill effects are felt by everyone – including the person who failed to vote,” he said.

He said the more Walkah Walkahs, a term he used to describe informed voters, the better the election results will be, as it will reflect the decision of the majority who will lead the nation in the next six years.

Jimenez explained that there is a need for voter education to start early, in order to fight election problems that existed in the previous years.

One of those is the premature campaigning, he said, an act where a possible candidate buys TV, radio, and other advertisements for public appearance even before the prescribed campaign period.

He admitted they had a hard time controlling these premature campaigns after they excluded the act as an election offense, following a Supreme Court decision ruling that such acts could be considered as part of a person’s freedom of expression.

With this, Jimenez said this could be averted if the voters will know the negative effects of premature political promotion, among other issues the Comelec will discuss to public during the walk.

Walkah Walkah is among the latest COMELEC programs, which he said is a result of an evolution aimed to better serve the public while using technological advancement, especially the social media, in spreading election information.

“It comes at a time when voters are more socially aware and more inclined to respond to calls to action… Elections are the foundation of our democracy. The day it becomes unimportant is the day that we lose our cherished democracy and the freedoms and liberties that go with it,” he said.