The Commission on Elections expressing interest in signing a memorandum of agreement with the Department of Social Welfare and Development to conduct “voter education” among the beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) that number more than a million.
The poll body said that through the program, they are targeting more than a million households.
“The Comelec and the DSWD are forging a partnership for integrated and enhanced Voter Education Programs for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps beneficiaries and their families,” the commission said.
“They would be given orientations and instructions on nation-building and patriotism, as well as the essence of democracy through responsible, educated, and accountable voting as integrated in the already existing modules,” it added.
Topics include informing the public about the importance of being a voter, the step-by-step process of voter registration, qualifications and duties of elected officials in the barangay and Sangguninang Kabataan, and the fight against disinformation in elections.
The 4Ps is the national poverty reduction strategy of the government where cash grants are provided to beneficiaries after they comply with a set of conditions required by the DSWD. The Comelec has long been looking to start a voters’ education campaign for 4Ps beneficiaries in an effort to prevent vote-buying which is rampant among poor Filipinos.
Integrating voter education into 4Ps sounds like a good idea on paper, and if the DSWD and Comelec can do it properly, the country should benefit from better quality and grateful voters that have been extracted from extreme poverty by a government program that did what it was supposed to do. However, care must be taken to ensure that propaganda is not allowed to poison the noble goal of voter education, and this is where the quality of the leadership of the government agencies involved will be tested.
Hopefully, the DSWD and Comelec can pass this test and generate Filipinos that are living better lives and voters that can make better decisions when it comes to the leaders we choose for this country.*