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Youth group pushes agenda for PH leaders in 2022 elections

By Jose Oscar Magpusao

The 1Sambayan Youth coalition, composed of various youth groups from different sectors, revealed an 11-point agenda for the 2022 national elections during their Halalan Heroes event on Monday.

1Sambayan Youth aimed to forward the agenda of their fellow youth, which focused on education, recovery and rights, urging the country’s potential future leaders to adopt their advocacies into their stations in government.

Safe, Quality and Accessible Education

The first point of the group placed a large emphasis on easily accessible and quality education, citing the glaring disparity between private and public schools, the latter being severely underfunded and lacking in number compared to the prosperous nature of private institutions.

The group stressed the need for the strengthening of the Philippine school system, especially given the strain the pandemic had on children and parents alike and out-of-school youths continuing to grow. They called for the reallocation of the military and intelligence funds, among others, focusing on improving the educational system in the country.

“We, the youth, clamor for free, quality, and accessible education in all levels of education, changes in our educational system to suit the needs of Filipinos, the safe reopening of schools, and the provision of adequate educational materials and resources,” the group said.

Attainable and Quality Basic Social Services

The second point advocated by the group focused on recovery, particularly on improving the government’s ability to provide the Filipino people with basic social services, especially under the pandemic.

The group called for the proper distribution of ayuda for all, free and extensive mass testing and contact tracing throughout the country, increased rehabilitation efforts in the government’s approach to drugs, the enactment of policies striving for zero hunger and quality nourishment for Filipinos, etc.

“We, the youth, clamor for the end of the COVID-19 pandemic through comprehensive national and scientific solutions and the attainment of quality basic social services for all Filipinos by providing universal health care and access to public utilities, as well as recognizing rights to adequate housing and food security,” the group said.

Decent Jobs and Livable Wage and Economic Security

The third point in the group’s agenda sought to address issues of unemployment and economic security, stating that COVID-19 did not only deteriorate the Philippines economy, “but it has also brought to the surface long-existing labor policy failures.”

This point of their agenda moved for the protection of workers and provide them with better security and benefits, all while living on a livable wage and protecting local industries, among others.

“We, the youth, build the solutions to our unemployment and income inequality crises by calling for an end to contractualization, the raise of wages to implement and provide a national living wage, and the restructuring of our economic policies to promote the progress of our domestic Industries,” the group said.

“While the Growth Development Product (GDP) is an important indicator of economic development, we must look beyond the numbers and into the gaping income inequality in our country caused by anti-poor provisions in labor laws and practices and outdated economic strategies,” they added.

Rural Development

The group’s fourth point looked to the development of rural areas, stating that those were the parts of the country where poverty is rampant and development is overlooked despite the country’s reliance on farmers and fishermen, the majority of which were situated in rural areas. This point also supported the protection of indigenous peoples and their ancestral lands.

“We, the youth, demand the investment of national resources for rural development and uphold the rights of national minorities,” the group said.

Environmental Protection and Climate Action

The fifth point in their agenda pushed for the government to conserve the biodiversity of the country and make proactive efforts against climate change, lean towards more sustainable urban planning and support organizations dedicated to protecting the environment. They also advocated for the enactment of policies that protect wildlife and ecosystems as well as those that limit pollution and ban the usage of plastic, among others.

“We, the youth, call to act now to combat climate change, conserve the oceans, seas, and marine resources, and protect terrestrial ecosystems by managing forests and combating desertification, land degradation, and biodiversity loss while promoting sustainable development and use,” the group said.

“Such rampant disregard and misuse of our natural resources is accelerating climate change so as to remove hope for us, the current generation of youth, and future generations,” they added.

Uphold Human Rights

The group’s sixth point in their agenda criticized the current administration, citing President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs as a major player in intensifying the human health crisis in the country. They also mentioned the consequences of passing the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, stating that it exacerbated the occurrence of extra-judicial killings, illegal arrests and red-tagging.

“We, the youth, seek justice for all the victims of innumerable attacks and killings by the current administration. We seek to junk the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 and the NTF-ELCAC, and realign the budget for these agencies towards socio-economic and medical needs amidst the pandemic. We urge national and international bodies to investigate and prosecute President Rodrigo Duterte and his accomplices. The Filipino youth urge justice for the victims of human rights violations; they are not mere statistics of numbers, they have been robbed of lives, livelihood, freedoms, and futures,” the group said.

Just and Lasting Peace

On their seventh point, the group pointed towards the government’s 50-year civil war with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NPA-NDF), advocating for a different approach to the issue, with a strong focus on addressing the socio-economic roots of the conflicts rather than relying on a militaristic response.

“We, the youth, call for the resumption of peace talks – based on addressing the socio-economic roots of war and injustice in the Philippines – the release of all political prisoners, the upholding of human rights, and accountability of peace spoilers in the military, as confidence-building measures for the resumption of peace talks,” the group said.

Genuine Equality and Social Protection for All

The group advocated for equality and social protection for all Filipinos in their eight point, pushing to end all forms of discrimination and harrassment while also empowering the marginalized and ostracized members of society such as the elderly, PWDs, members of the LGBTQI+ community, etc..

“We, the youth, fight any kind of discrimination or hate crime on the basis of real or assumed nationality, race, ethnicity, religion or beliefs, sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, disability, class or age. We recognize the diversity among people and societies in our country, and see this as a richness. Policies to combat discrimination must not only be created for those who experience it, but with them from the drafting table to implementation,” the group said.

Press Freedom

The ninth point in the group’s agenda called for the defense of press freedom, highlighting the importance of the press in maintaining communications between the government and the public, as well as their role in keeping public officials accountable.

The group criticized the government’s harsh and restricting treatment of the press, citing the intimidation and tagging of journalists and members of the media, as well as the shutdown of ABS-CBN, among others.

“We, the youth, call to defend press freedom by protecting and supporting campus and national publications, opposing censorship and libel provisions in our laws, condemning the attacks against members of the press, and advocating for independent journalism,” the group said.

Independent Foreign Policy and National Sovereignty

In their tenth point, the group urged the government to express its territorial rights and protect its citizens both in the country and those abroad. They stated that foreign interests should not play a part in the governance of the nation and the independence and rights of every Filipino should be prioritized over foreigners.

“We, the youth, push for an independent foreign policy that upholds human rights, democracy,

the rule of law and the respect of international law; ensures lasting peace; and provides for

multilateral solutions and genuine cooperation at a global level to combat global challenges,” the group said.

Good Governance, Strong Democratic Institutions and Youth Empowerment

The group’s last point urged potential future leaders to practice good governance, placing an emphasis on accountability and transparency. This point also called for the government’s support on youth involvement in governance and politics.

“We, the youth, clamor for pro-people governance and the strengthening of democratic institutions by advocating for transparency and accountability battling against corruption and nepotism. We call on the government to provide a sensitive and effective COVID-19 response, not one that is arbitrary, inconsistent, and inaccessible. More importantly, we call for greater inclusion of youth in political spaces through increasing the number of registered youth voters, active involvement in planning for national and local policies, and opening of more government seats to members of the youth,” the group said.

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