Press Release
May 4, 2007


Ten days to go before the upcoming national elections, Senator Mar Roxas urged all 45.5 million registeredincluding 504,000 overseas absentee votersto exercise their sovereign right to vote.

Roxas, also known as Mr. Palengke, made this call to his fellow kababayans in light of historical figures showing that the average turnout of voters in national polls in the last 21 years was a less-than-ideal 76.9%.

We have a line-of-seven average voter turnout since the snap elections in 1986, o tulad ng sabi ng mga matatanda, pasang-awa o palakol, he said.

Citing data from the Commission on Elections, he said, in the last 21 years, the lowest voter turn-out was 70.7% in the 1995 senatorial election. Much lower rates were observed during local, barangay and in special elections.

The highest, he said, was in the 1998 presidential elections, with an 86.4% voter turn-out. Voter turn-out in the 2001 senatorial election was 76.3%, and this decreased to 74.3% in the 2004 presidential election. Voter turn-out means the portion of registered voters who actually cast their ballots.

Among absentee voters, who started to vote in 2004, he said the results are much more disconcerting: only 65% of 364,187 registered actually voted. As of yesterday, a very low overseas absentee voter participation5% turn-outhas been reported.

This means that less and less people are willing to go out of their way to vote. This does not bode well for democracy, he said.

Roxas said many of our people are already disillusioned with the electoral process. He said over the years, the elections have been filled with promises that have not been fulfilled, leaders elected who failed to address their daily needs. In fact, he said popular culture has looked at politics with derision.

The people do not see our elections as clean, and they expect the same problems of massive cheating, vote-buying and fraud. The challenge for us is to make the May 14 elections work, he said.

According to a recent survey by Pulse Asia , while slightly more people trust the Commission on Elections32% versus 28% who distrust the bodya whopping 40% are still undecided as to whether they should entrust their votes to Comelec.

More importantly, the people perceive politicians and the government as part of the problem, rather than being part of the solution to urgent problems experienced everyday, like poverty and hunger, he said.

He noted that self-rated hunger, according to the Social Weather Stations, is at a record high of 19%, and self-rated poverty is a whopping 53%.


But Roxas said there is a sign of hope, as the SWS has also found out in their recent surveys that 86% of registered voters will surely vote, or 10% more than the running average voter turn-out.

Furthermore, he said voting is an expression of our right to have a say on government affairs, especially on who we want as our leaders.

While it is important to vote, Roxas stressed that it is much more important to vote wisely. He added that it is equally important to be vigilant, to watch closely the electoral process, and afterwards, the fulfillment of promises given by candidates who will win.

Business and civil society groups are now actively involved in voters education, such as Lente, VFORCE, Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan, the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting, among others.

Like the Red Cross, these volunteers should be spared from harassment. Rather, we should see them as guardians of the May 14 elections; hence deserving of our support, he said.

Roxas said the elections should be seen as an opportunity for the people to audit their political leaders: to reward those who perform according to mandate, and remove those who do not.

He said politics could be our countrys way towards redemption, if we do not let those already in government get away with it. He said peoples jadedness must be replaced by hope, and indifference replaced by involvement.

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