By NITZ ARANCON
XAVIER University set aside P1 million for its research group that has been tasked to conduct independent election surveys in the city, Kinaadman: University Research Office deputy director Dr. Astrid Cinco has revealed.
The disclosure came even as Xavier-Ateneo de Cagayan president Roberto Yap assured that the university would remain non-partisan.
“Xavier Ateneo will maintain its non-partisan stand to facilitate objective and critical thinking and engagement for the academic community. We will actively support electoral programs and activities primarily as convener of the multisectoral Lihuk 2019 movement.”
Lihuk is the organizer of the series of candidates’ fora at Xavier’s Little Theater that, the movement said, are aimed at making politicians seeking public office known to Cagayan de Oro’s voters. After the fora for candidates for city council seats and the Lower House, respectively, the next politicians scheduled to face off are those in the mayoral and vice mayoral races.
Fr. Yap, in an April 1 memorandum, explained that the Jesuit-run university “participates in a non-partisan way in electoral processes to contribute to the strengthening of democratic and patriotic values as enshrined in the Philippine Constitution.”
Xavier said the candidates’ fora and the surveys are in line with the university’s advocacy for clean, honest, accurate, meaningful, and peaceful elections, and the “Ignatian value of discernment in choosing candidates running for elective posts in government.”
Dr. Cinco, who is also the Kinaadman election survey project leader, said the budget set aside by Xavier covers the second survey, the results of which would be made public by the university research group in early May.
The results of Kinaadman’s first survey, released last week, showed the top candidates who had comfortable leads as of the April 4-11 period: reelectionists Mayor Oscar Moreno and his running mate Vice Mayor Raineir Joaquin Uy, Rep. Rolando Uy of the 1st District, and former congressman Rufus Rodriguez who is seeking to win back his old seat in the 2nd District.
According to Cinco, Xavier hired 15 independent enumerators.
“They have been trained to be independent, and they are not students of Xavier,” said Cinco.
Cinco however disclosed that the enumerators are also Cagayan de Oro voters. She also said the enumerators were not among those who collected Kinaadman’s survey data in 2016.
She said the Kinaadman surveys are part of Xavier’s academic exercises aimed at helping voters and candidates.
Xavier’s Social Development’s Student Involvement and Advocacy Program is facilitating activities in line with the elections. These include:
• Kwentuhang Bayan Series – voters’ education sessions for various sectors in the city and in some parts of Northern Mindanao in collaboration with Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan;
• Pag-ila: Candidates’ Profiling – in partnership with the city and provincial election offices;
• electoral forums for local and national candidates; and
• election monitoring before, during, and after elections in collaboration with the National Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel), and the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV).