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Apathy, ALS, and Elections 2016

“The problem is not the dumb voters who keep electing dumb politicians.

The problem is the smart people who can’t help dumb people from being dumb.

Why blame dumb people for being dumb? They wouldn’t want to keep being one if they can.

The problem is not with others. It is with us for letting others be what they are.”

Ateneo Law students are perceived as apathetic (at least, amongst ourselves). But are we really apathetic? Have we been reduced to machines that only memorize and spew the law out on command? Have we become detached to the realities outside our posh enclave?

It’s easy to blame law school as the reason of this apathy – really, who has time to go out and “do something” when we’re hidden behind a mountain of readings and about to get cut by the professor in tomorrow’s recits? But that’s not true, because the school offers a lot of opportunities for us to make a difference. There’s the Ateneo Human Rights Center, LENTE, Legal Aid Office, Campus Ministry, and all the other orgs and affiliations, as well as the Student Council, with their many activities that push us to do some good beyond our books.

With the elections coming up next year, we have another opportunity to show to ourselves that we are not apathetic, that we are better than what we believe ourselves and the school can be, and that we are not just Bar passers, but “real” lawyers in the making. These elections are highly contested (with candidates who have no clear-as-of-yet platforms or divisions as they all seem to come from one or two major political parties) and critical (the next president will appoint 11 Supreme Court justices in his or her term, issues with China coming to a head, and the catastrophe that is our traffic and transport situation, must be addressed in the next administration among many other things). We must do our part.

Which is why the Student Council, AHRC, LENTE, and the Canadian Fund have kickstarted the biggest student project ever in the ALS, the Ateneo Law National Elections Task Force 2016. Not only is this the biggest student project we’ve ever had, but this is also actually (and surprisingly) the first time ALS students have had any project concerning the elections. It will be deploying hundreds of law students to communities and provide information regarding the elections, such as voters’ rights and violations of election rules. It would be great if all of us would sign up here, but if not, I’m sure there are many organizations that have similar plans for the elections.

It’s time to stop Facebook-whining about the state of Philippine politics, about bobotantes. We, ALS students with majority of us belonging in the middle-upper income classes, have the privileges and opportunities to be informed; it’s about time we share that with others if we truly care about the outcome of these elections. We can’t blame people for being uninformed if most of them don’t have access to the right information, and through the Task Force and similar programs, we can give it to them. P

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