ADRi vTHD: “Democracy Goes On: Upholding a Safe, Free, and Credible 2022 Elections in the New Normal”

The 2022 national elections will be a unique one in our time. These elections will be conducted during a pandemic, amidst long-time threats of voter fraud and vote-buying, and against the backdrop of widespread disinformation. As the country faces both old and new challenges, it is important to have a correct understanding of election-related issues and how this will affect the safety, transparency, and reliability of the coming elections. Different stakeholders have key roles to play in order to accomplish this.

Aside from the current health pandemic the country faces, our country is confronted by the pandemic of disinformation. False information continues to spread especially on social media, and this could significantly affect voter decisions and the election turnout. It is thus not only important to raise public awareness and educate the electorate on election-related issues. More importantly, public discussions and debates should also delve into the desirable qualities and characteristics that national candidates must possess. In this way, the Filipino electorate are guided in choosing the right leaders.

Government, civil society, the private sector, the academe, and media all play an important part in creating a better understanding of election-related issues. Using technology for election automation, for instance, helps in the general conduct of elections. Technology is an integral tool to address the risks faced in an election – be it general threats of fraud or even COVID-19 concerns. Vote counting machines can assure the accuracy and transparency of the vote. Also, automating the elections reduces person-to-person contact necessary for the votes to be counted.

Voter participation is also a key aspect of the upcoming elections. Though threats of COVID-19 remain, and there must indeed be steps taken to protect the public’s health and safety, democracy need not be sacrificed. Countries such as the United States, South Korea, and other democracies have demonstrated that elections can be carried out in the presence of COVID-19. With strict health protocols and the necessary technology in place, governments can uphold citizens’ right to suffrage. In particular, the Palawan Plebiscite of last year exemplifies how Filipinos are still willing and able to participate in the casting of their ballots.

This event aimed to bring together experts to discuss key concepts on elections towards safe, free, and fair polls. In doing so, the Institute hopes to provide a space to prepare the electorate for May 2022.

Program

Opening Remarks

Prof. Victor Andres “Dindo” Manhit
President, Stratbase ADR Institute

COMELEC Preparations for the 2022 Elections

Dir. James Jimenez
Spokesperson, Commission on Elections (COMELEC)

Validity and Reliability of Vote Counting Machines (VCMs)

Mr. Henry Aguda, FICD
Trustee, Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV);
Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Technology and Operations Officer, and Chief Transformation Officer,
Union Bank of the Philippines

The future of elections in a COVID-affected world

Dr. Ador Torneo
Director, La Salle Institute of Governance;
Full Professor of the Department of Political Science, De La Salle University

The Value of Choosing the Right Leaders in the Coming Elections

Ms. Mardi Mapa-Suplido
Chairperson, International Center for Innovation, Transformation and Excellence in Governance (INCITEGov)

Addressing Disinformation on Social Media

Prof. Danilo “Danny” Arao
Associate Professor of Journalism, University of the Philippines;
Convenor, Kontra Daya

Role of the Youth in National Elections

Atty. Mildred Ople
Program Officer, Youth Leadership for Democracy (YouthLed)

The role of Civil Society Participation in Voter Education in a Pandemic

Atty. Ona Caritos
Executive Director, Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE)

Moderator and Closing Remarks

Mr. Francesco “Paco” Pangalangan
Executive Director, Stratbase ADR Institute;
Lead Convenor, Democracy Watch Philippines

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