Sixty years since Wenceslao Vinzons’ Young Philippines was founded, a new sectoral party has risen to represent the country’s youth in Congress. Anak ng Bayan, the only youth sectoral party accredited by the Comelec, vows to push its electoral agenda on education, campus press freedom, employment and other youth concerns.
By EMILY VITAL
This time, the youth will no longer serve as a mere machinery of big politicians for elections or as a sectoral vote to be exploited on election day. The youth, through its only sectoral party Anak ng Bayan (AnB – people’s youth), will field its own nominees in the party list elections this May.
Anak ng Bayan is the sole youth party accredited by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) after applying for the party-list elections last Jan. 9.
The party aims to advance the youth’s legislative agenda in Congress, Apolinario Alvarez, AnB national president said.
Alvarez said the youth’s legislative agenda revolve around the issue of education, employment and other youth concerns.
“We presented our most urgent demands a few months before Gloria Macapagal –Arroyo was installed president in January 2001: a moratorium on tuition increases; higher subsidy for education; decent employment for the youth and respect for democratic rights,” Alvarez said. “She did not lift a finger to address any of these issues.”
“We have learned our lessons. We can no longer pin our hopes on big politicians who woo us every election period and dump us when they get into power,” he said.
Alvarez cited some of their priorities if the party gets elected. “As prescribed by the United Nations, at least six percent of the country’s gross domestic product should be allotted to education,” he said.
This year, only P15.68 billion is earmarked for 111 state universities and colleges. Studies show that the Philippine government allots only 2.2 percent of the GDP for education.
He also cited their demand for a 10-year moratorium on tuition hikes. “Since the deregulation of tuition in 1982, private educational institutions have managed to amass millions of profit,” he also said.
In the first semester of 2003 alone, the government Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) approved the petition for tuition hike of 358 private tertiary schools.
Anak ng Bayan will also push for the implementation of the Study Now, Pay Later Program; the repeal of Campus Journalism Act of 1991; and the review of Education Act of 1982, Higher Education Act of 1991 and other education-related laws.
The youth party vows to carry forward the politics of hope and struggle.
Genuine youth party
Unlike youth parties led by giant political parties, Anak ng Bayan was formed by the youth themselves. Founded on June 19, 2001 by former convenors of the Estrada Resign Youth Movement (ERYM), Anak ng Bayan is the only youth party formed since the pre-World War II Young Philippines of Wenceslao Vinzon.
Asked if Anak ng Bayan will endorse any of the presidential aspirants, Alvarez said the party has yet to hear the program for the youth of the candidates. “Those who want to get the youth vote must respond to the legitimate demands of the youth and the people,” he said.
However, Alvarez said the party’s members and supporters have scratched out two aspirants in their list of choices. He said they will definitely junk Macapagal-Arroyo and Panfilo Lacson in the 2004 elections.
“Ms. Macapagal’s track record as president gives us not a single reason to even think about voting her. Another six years is too much a burden for the youth and the people,” he explained.