Boto Mo, iPatrol Mo: Not just a movement
- Art Bonjoc, Jr. Area News Manager of ABS-CBN Northern Mindanao ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs () - April 1, 2010 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Boto Mo, iPatrol Mo: Ako ang Simula! (BMPM) has never stopped inspiring me. Eight months after we launched BMPM in Northern Mindanao, the thrill and excitement for the movement remain, with each activity bringing more inspiration.

BMPM started in Cagayan de Oro City on July 29, 2009. After its successful launch, many areas followed suit with requests for BMPM registration from young people. Two months later, BMPM gathered about 5,000 individuals in Iligan City on Sept. 21 with a historic torch parade. This was followed by equally remarkable gatherings in Butuan City on Dec. 1 , in Surigao City on Feb 26, 2010, in Bislig City in Surigao del Sur on March 5 , and in Dipolog City on March 19 . About 20,000 individuals have been registered as Boto Patrollers or citizen journalists in Northern Mindanao, my area of responsibility, through BMPM road shows and campus tours.

People from these places have unique characteristics, with their problems requiring varying responses. But the main reason people sign up as Boto Patrollers override these differences: people want to start the change by changing themselves. They want to actively participate in the coming elections and not just fence-sit. Learning about this motivation, the scene of hundreds of young people gathering in BMPM activities is so awesome and a sight to behold!

At the start of the local campaign season last Friday, March 26, BMPM again set the pace for this movement for change. Boto Patrollers of Cagayan de Oro City and nearby provinces held a general assembly. It was a reunion where everyone focused on “what to do and how to do it” to make BMPM not just successful but, more importantly, significant to themselves and to others. This mindset makes being Boto Patroller easy and exciting.

A graduating student of Mindanao University of Science and Technology — Cagayan de Oro got so excited after he realized he can be a powerful citizen journalist. Ceasar Degorio of Surigao del Sur lamented that when he was still a grade-schooler, local politicians already bragged about having a bridge constructed in their area. This bridge remains unfinished and in a sad state. Now, along with other Boto Patrollers, Caesar wants to make these politicians accountable by sending their story to BMPM.

Another Boto Patroller, Jerome Jungco of Capitol University, expressed concern over the possibility of a failure of elections. He encouraged fellow Boto Patrollers to be vigilant at all times and make public whatever they will discover, especially those that might hamper the election process.

These are just some of the reactions you’ll hear from Boto Patrollers. Their enthusiasm is contagious. Their passion dispels pessimism.

The compound of ABS-CBN CDO was filled with people from all walks of life during the assembly. And the crowd grew bigger when Vicente Emano and Rolando Uy, candidates for the mayoralty post of Cagayan de Oro City, and Misamis Oriental gubernatorial bets Oscar Moreno and Michael Paderanga arrived for the scheduled political debate in the afternoon. Chanting and cheering filled the air and muted the “Ako Ang Simula” music video.

Local candidates presented their platforms and programs of government in the debate dubbed “Harapan”, a spinoff of the ABS-CBN and ANC national candidates’ debate held in Manila a week earlier. It was one of a kind, and the first time for Cagayan de Oro and Misamis Oriental candidates to be directly debating and scrutinizing their opponents in a tensed but lively discussion in front of their supporters and Boto Patrollers. “Harapan” was also aired live over MOR 91.9 from 4 to 7 p.m. and candidates were flooded with questions texted by radio listeners. It was a privilege for local candidates to introduce themselves to people and an opportunity for people to make informed decisions.

People have been wondering why many are joining BMPM, particularly in Mindanao. I think many of our young people are politically aware and they know that if we screw up this time, the country will be in a quagmire. They want to actively participate in putting an end the vote buying, cheating, fraud, and election-related violence. Young people have accepted the challenge to be catalysts for change. They are showing us it can be done but it must start from each one of us. And the youth of Mindanao also want to eradicate from everyone’s mind that Mindanao is the country’s cheating capital.

They believe that BMPM is not only a movement — it is a mission! With it, we move closer to the change that we have been longing for.

AKO ANG SIMULA ANOTHER BOTO PATROLLER BISLIG CITY BMPM BOTO BOTO PATROLLERS CITY MINDANAO NORTHERN MINDANAO ORO CITY PEOPLE
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