Youth groups deliver alternative SONA on drug-related killings
MANILA, Philippines- #YouthResist, a movement led by the Millennials Against Dictators (MAD), Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP), and Akbayan! Youth, staged delivered an alternative State of the Nation Address (SONA) in a rally that condemned the killings brought about by President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.
The "Youth SONA" was attended by a predominantly young audience at the St. Scholastica’s College on Tuesday, July 18.
President Duterte is set to deliver his second SONA at the House of Representatives on Monday, July 24, but these youth movement says their assessment of the administration is the accurate one. (READ: Tell the #StoryOfTheNation through photos)
“We stand here today to tell this government that the millennials are watching. That you are not blind. The youth will not be fooled by fake news and information on social media,” said Senator Risa Hontiveros to her young audience in her speech at the gathering.
According to her, the cyberspace is the domain of the millennials and no old men in Malacañang know it better than they do.
Hontiveros, herself a Scholastican, started as an activist at the age of 15.
“We will take back the democracy they are stealing from us. And we know this darkness will pass because you, the young, have the light,” she said.
The youth have spoken
“It’s time to resist in a time of corruption and extrajudicial killings. There is a need for hope and to break the apathy within us, the youth. It always starts with us. They must listen to us,” said Shibby de Guzman.
De Guzman is one of the many faces of #YouthResist. The 13-year-old Scholastican has been a victim of cyberbullying after a photo of her at a rally during the burial of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos went viral.
Despite the backlash she experienced, the grade 9 student said nothing can stop her from doing something for her country.
“I think it’s too much already, the amount of impunity and violence in this culture that is being inculcated in our people. When you go on social media, the people's mentality is, extrajudicial killing are the norm,” said Millennials Against Dictators co-convener Karla Yu.
According to Yu, the fight starts with speaking up: “It starts with making the young people feel that we have the strength in our numbers and that there is reason for us in fighting and hope in getting things better.”
She encourages young people to voice out their opinions despite the detractors, and to turn their online activism to offline activism.
“Everybody’s paralyzed [to take action] because of social media trolls. There are actual threats that you might actually die when you speak up about this. You might get jailed like Senator Leila De Lima if you actively oppose this government and its policy of extrajudicial killings,” she said.
De Lima lauds #YouthResist
Despite being detained in Camp Crame, Senator Leila de Lima commended the organizers of the "Youth SONA," especially on fighting against extrajudicial killings, yesterday.
"The youth have broken their silence over the crooked governance of the Duterte administration, including its spreading of fake news to destroy its critics, while diverting us from the real issues, and the continued killings under the bloody war on drugs and the chaos in Mindanao,” she said in a statement.
De Lima, a fierce critic of the President, is detained in Camp Crame over drug-related charges, filed by the justice department after she reopened the Senate investigation into extrajudicial killings.
"May the voice of the youth, our children, wake up our countrymen to the truth. The deception is too much. The killings have to stop. It's time to start the change that we all have truly aspired for," the senator said. – Rappler.com
A Journalism graduate from the University of the Philippines-Diliman, Danielle Nakpil is a former Rappler intern.