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Will KathNiel vote 'wisely'?

 As one of the three most influential Filipino young tandems today, May 2016 candidates are sure to woo these two to endorse and campaign for them. But will these two choose wisely?

 IRENE CURTIS

DANIEL Padilla and Kathryn Bernardo, stars of Pangako Sa’yo (The Filipino Channel), will be first-time voters in the upcoming May 2016 national elections. Young as they are – Daniel is 20; Kathryn, 19 – the two have considerable influence over millions of Filipino youths, many of whom are voting for the first time, too, next year. They have already proven themselves exemplary by publicly registering as voters days before the Oct 31 deadline, using the media coverage to encourage young Filipinos of voting age to be responsible voters. The important question now is how will Daniel’s and Kathyrn’s choices in May reflect what kind of voters they are?

 NOT ALLOWED TO CAMPAIGN FOR ANYONE…

In an Inquirer report, Kathryn said her contract as an ABS-CBN artiste does not allow her to endorse any candidate.

“Star Magic does not allow its talents to campaign for anyone,” she said. Star Magic is the talent management arm of ABS-CBN.

“It will be my first time to vote so I’m really preparing for it. I will only vote for someone who I know deserves it,” she said.

And what kind of candidate deserves her vote? “My vote will go to the candidate who is not corrupt. This person also has to be sincere in his or her wish to help the country.”

Given her fame and level of influence among KathNiel’s legion of young fans, Kathryn’s choices in the upcoming elections may sway young voters’ own choices.

Filipino voters, especially those from the lower class or masa sectors, are notorious for voting for candidates endorsed by their favourite celebrities, regardless those candidates are worthy or not.

It’s fair to say that Kathryn’s final election choices, if made public before the actual elections, may still unduly influence her impressionable fanbase’s own selection. Thus, how she chooses her candidates will certainly impact how her young fans choose their own.

Kathryn says her choices would ultimately depend on two major factors: her family and her religion. “[My family and I] usually discuss this over dinner. Religion is also a major consideration.”

The young star’s family actively belongs to the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) Christian denomination. The faction is known to vote en bloc in elections, meaning the whole congregation votes only for the candidates chosen by their church leaders.

While it’s evident her candidate picks would rely on external influences, the young actress relinquishes responsibility for “persuading” her fans’ choices.

“I don’t have the right to dictate to them who they should support. They have their own opinion. It will really depend on them,” she said.

… SO WHAT IS DANIEL DOING

 Apart from setting a good example on the youth by taking the time off his busy schedule to register as a first-time voter, Daniel starred in an ad by the National Movement of Young Legislators Alumni (NMLYI) wherein he encouraged Filipinos to register as voters. Mike Planas, NMLYI’s secretary general, was Daniel’s stepfather.

“Para sa akin, dapat simulan na habang bata pa para masanay na kami, ‘di ba? ‘Yung iba, hindi ginagawa, eh kaya huwag kayong magreklamo, ‘di ba? Tulog lang kayo noong araw na ‘yun, eh,” he said, explaining his decision to actively promote voter registration among the youth.

(For me, taking part in the elections should start while you’re  young. Those who didn’t register and/ or vote don’t get to complain about the government because hey, you just slept during registration.)

“Iba na rin ang pagiging open ng kabataan ngayon sa government. Marunong na rin sila, so habang bata, simulan kaagad para masanay at pag-aralan kung sino gusto nilang iboto,” he added.

(It’s different how open today’s youth are when it comes to the government. They are learning how to think, so it’s good to start them young, to learn how to decide who to vote for.)

But considering how Kathryn insisted their artiste contracts bar them from endorsing any particular candidate, it’s baffling to hear Daniel’s mom, actress Karla Estrada, reportedly confirm in a recent interview that her son is endorsing not just one, but two candidates in 2016. When asked who these two candidates were, Daniel demurred, saying talks are still ongoing.

“May mga sarili rin akong choices pero nagtatanong din ako kay tito Mike (Planas, his ex-stepfather) ng lahat, like kung ano ang ginawa ng mga politikong ito. May mga pinag-uusapan kaming ganyan ni tito Mike parati. Para alam mo ‘yun, alam din natin, hindi tayo basta boto lang ng boto,” he said.

(I have my own choices but I also ask Tito Mike about everything, like what the candidates did. We always talk about this stuff so that we are educated, and not just vote for voting’s sake.)

 TO BE TRULY FINE EXAMPLES TO THE VOTING YOUTH…

Kathryn and Daniel hold immense influence due to their fame and celebrity. While this could be put to good use by endorsing an honest, upstanding, high-achieving candidate, doing so would perpetuate the rotten system of using celebrities to get voters to install someone undeserving into power. Or even if that candidate were deserving, then paying celebrity endorsers actually belittles his/ her achievements in governance because his/her triumph would most certainly be credited to his/her stellar supporters rather than on his/her own record as a public servant.

Celebrities advocating a worthy cause is to be applauded. Promote voter registration. Encourage voting on election day. Advocate for a clean, honest and safe election. But to endorse a candidate who paid for your time and services?

We await Daniel’s final decision on publicly endorsing a presidential and a senatorial candidate. More importantly, if said endorsements would be paid or given free of charge. Celebrity does come with a price, but we’re hoping that in Daniel’s and Kathryn’s case, they won’t cheat their young Filipino fans by going for candidates that would benefit only their bank accounts or their religion.

VOTE WISELY, kabayan.