At least 26 groups have banded together for "YOUTHnited Pilipinas," a national campaign that seeks to push for a National Youth Commission (NYC) that will “genuinely” represent the interests of the youth sector.
Launched on World Youth Day, August 12, YOUTHnited Pilipinas seeks to amplify the calls of at least 26 youth groups from all over the Philippines, including Akbayan Youth, GoodGovPH, and Hirayang Kabataan, for better governance.
During the launch, the groups bolstered calls for the resignation of NYC chairperson Ryan Enriquez and commissioner Ronald Cardema. (READ: Youth groups demand NYC chair resignation)
“We are one with the Filipino youth in calling for genuine youth representation in the NYC leadership. We are united for a better NYC,” said Gabriela Youth's Catherine Basallote.
Back in June, at least 120 Sangguniang Kabataan and student organizations signed a unity statement seeking the NYC chairperson’s resignation for “misrepresenting” the Filipino youth.
During the launch, the youth leaders asserted that the NYC has misrepresented their sector by not pursuing – and even doing the complete opposite – of youth advocacies.
They cited NYC’s support for the anti-terror law despite massive clamor from the youth to junk the draconian measure.
Since June, youth groups have been leading rallies online and on the streets, including the Grand Mañanita at the University of the Philippines Diliman on June 12, to amplify calls to junk the controversial measure.
“The youth’s opposition to the [anti-terror] law has been very widespread, as the youth saw how dangerous the law is, especially when used against us who are ready to express dissent and be critical of the administration and its policies,” Raoul Manuel of Youth Act Now Against Tyranny said in Filipino.
“If NYC is like this, we cannot expect this agency to counterflow the corruption in the government, as well as stop it from being a lapdog to foreigners, and oppose anti-poor and anti-people policies,” Manuel said.
The youth groups also lambasted the commission for being silent on the persistent attacks on the youth, especially activists, who have been subjects of government's red-tagging campaign.
The youth leaders added that the indifference of the NYC to these attacks only shows how the commission no longer represented their sector.
“It is impossible for NYC to not see the effects of these smear campaigns against the youth… The true agenda of NYC is very clear at this point: to be an instrument of President Duterte to silence the youth,” said Paula Andrea Vesliño from Kabataang Tagapagtanggol ng Karapatan.
Vesliño added: “The youth, with or without NYC, will continue to build a brighter future for every Filipino. Without the youth, NYC is nothing.”
While the NYC chief and Cardema remain in the commission, the youth groups said they will hold the National Youth Consultations – a nationwide study on the youth sector to be conducted by participating groups Hirayang Kabataan, starting September.
Data culled from the study the data will help groups find out the needs for the youth, and their stand on pressing national issues.
Carlo Africa of Hirayang Kabataan explained that youth groups will conduct focus group discussions with youth representatives, followed by a nationwide youth survey, in September. Results are expected to be released by October.
"This is a goal for us to find out, to listen what really are the problems that the youth face...so that, later on, we can actually do something about it, [and] do something that our government or the NYC haven’t done,” Africa said.
Africa said youth groups can use the data from this project to better plan projects for the youth. They also hope to present the results of the consultations in dialogues with the NYC.
He said that they initiated the online campaign to give the youth a voice.
“We will be the ones who will listen and hear our fellow youth so we (youth groups) can embody the true stand of the youth sector,” Africa said in Filipino.
The groups are still accepting partner individuals and organizations whom they can work with to conduct the consultations. Interested partner organizations and individuals may sign up through this link until August 28. – Rappler.com
Loreta Arroyo is a Rappler intern from the University of Santo Tomas. She is an incoming senior taking up Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. She is also the incumbent president of the UST Journalism Society, the official student organization of the oldest journalism school in Asia.