Let’s not forget the youth

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IN 1791, when the Constitution of the United States of America was ratified allowing “a well-regulated militia for the security of a free state, and giving the right of the people to keep and bear arms,” nobody expected that three centuries later, America will face major problems like firearms-related death and injury among children and adolescents, increased youth gun-carrying, and weaning of the psychological effects of exposure to gun violence, among others.

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In the same effect, when former President Ferdinand Marcos institutionalized a policy to encourage emigration to stimulate the economy of the Philippines in the 1970s, outward labor migration has been steadily increasing since then. However, with the government support for the policy of emigration, subsequent administrations thereafter lacked concrete policies for employment in the country, resulting to high unemployment and poor living standards, encouraging thousands of Filipinos to seek employment overseas (Center for Migrant Advocacy). The International Labor Office discovered that one in five permanent international Filipino migrants belongs to the 15 – 24 age category.

In the field of public policy, it is important to bring theory closer to reality. The relationship between positive and normative economics notes, “If policy making is to be effective in improving human welfare, it must obviously be rooted in sound positive scientific analysis; hence, policymakers should be cognizant of the full-range of consequences of the policies that will be recommended.”

The youth is primarily among the most affected of the significant outcome of all aspects of issues, whether in a local, national or international scale. Whatever policy or law approved and implemented will directly and indirectly determine the future of the young population in the long run.

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The Centrist Democratic Youth Association of the Philippines (CDYAP) is a youth political organization with a centrist democratic orientation whose values are anchored in human dignity, empowerment, socio-political maturity and integrity. The organization believes in non-obstructive political engagement, active participation of young people, and dismantling the plague of apathy among the youth.

Being at the frontline of the youth’s role in nation-building, we congratulate our esteemed President Rodrigo Duterte in the delivery of his first state-of-the-nation address (SONA) held at the Batasang Pambansa on July 25.

We applaud Duterte’s consistency of advocacy since he first started his presidential bid last year on the fight against illegal drugs, criminality, and corruption. The rampant spread of illegal drugs in the nation has affected too many lives, destroying the bright future of many of our youth. We acknowledge his sincerity and courage as being the first President to make the fight against illegal drugs and criminality his priority agenda. Indeed, we believe that a safe and healthy nation makes for a progressive one.

As part of the FOI (Freedom of Information) Youth Initiative, the CDYAP commends the President for his initiative in signing the executive order on the implementation of the said policy. After years of silence from Congress, it is high time this policy demanding transparency and accountability from our government officials is implemented.

A win for peace was also achieved in this SONA when the President officially announced a unilateral ceasefire as well as a call for more inclusive negotiations and peace talks with the armed rebel groups, including the CPP/NPA/NDF and the factions of Moro rebel groups (MILF, MNLF with IPs, and sultanates). Moreover, we applaud the brave orders of the President in asking Congress to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), minus unconstitutional provisions, which essentially is now called the BLBAR (Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region).

Other salient points we applaud include the full-force implementation of the Reproductive Health Law, the Mindanao Railway Project, the free-wifi grant, and the hastening of government operations and eradication of red tape.

The President is laudable for his vision to empower the marginalized and eliminate the perennial problems in our country; yet, we urge the President also prioritize some unmentioned issues that concern us, the youth, specifically on some human rights violations by police officials, electoral and political reforms, immediate implementation of the SK reform law, poverty reduction, and federalism.

SK Reform Law, call for full implementation
The barangay elections will be held on Oct. 31 alongside the elections for the reformed Sangguniang Kabataan (SK). Several new reports have given some doubt on the SK Reform Law’s full implementation come October. Moreover, this was not at all mentioned in the President’s speech. There is also a pending motion in the House of Representatives seeking to reset the coming barangay elections to Oct. 8, 2018, amending Republic Act No. 9340. It has been years since the original SK has been demolished with no further representation of youth to all public inquiries. We believe it is high time for the youth to come back and take our part in shaping our policies and building our nation.

Duterte must prioritize electoral, political reforms

The political turncoatism of many politicians since Duterte’s win is not surprising, to say the least. This has been part of our political culture for decades now. The CDYAP believes that a clear political party reform law is long overdue to be passed in the halls of Congress. We believe this is the best way to systematically change a rotten electoral and political culture plagued with vote-buying, personality-based politics, and the absence of real political party ideologies and principles leading to the lack of accountability and consistency from our elected officials. We must acknowledge that this culture has affected the youth, aggravating our frustration to the feeling of apathy and hopelessness in the political process. We hope to restore the vigor of political activism and an interest in a deeper public policy discussion among future leaders, the youth.

Please hear us, Mr. President!

Jeresa May C. Ochave is secretary of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines (CDP)-Davao Chapter, and was elected as regional chairperson of the Centrist Democratic Youth Association of the Philippines (CDYAP)-Region XI.

Nasserudin Dunding is research and policy director of the United Youth of the Philippines-Women, Inc.

Regine Rodriguez is national secretary-general of CDYAP and currently taking up law at the University of the Philippines-Diliman.

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