Youth Party Seeks Congressional Seat

Will the second one be a charm? A youth group under a new name intends to do so as it launches its bid for party-list representation in the May 2007 elections, learning from the politicking that happened in the previous elections that cost them a seat despite a respectable showing in the polls.

BY DABET CASTAÑEDA
Bulatlat

In preparation for the May 2007 elections, more than 1,000 youth nationwide went to the San Juan Gymnasium last January 19 to convene the Kabataan (Youth) Partylist which will seek representation in the House of Representatives.

They came in uniform with the young college girls wearing their knee-long skirts and pristine white blouses while others wore their PE uniforms. Most of the boys wore red or black shirts and their worn-out pants. There was a group of punks wearing all-black outfits with the girls donning hair sticks like those seen in Asian telenovelas. Though some put their black shoes on, the comfy flip-flops in assorted colors are obviously the footwear of the season.

The participants came from schools like Ateneo de Manila University, St. Scholastica’s College (Manila), St. Paul College (Quezon City), University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman and Manila, Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) in Sta. Mesa, Fatima University, Eulogio Amang Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology (Earist), Philippine Normal University (PNU), Philippine Christian University (PCU), Central Colleges of the Philippines (CCP) and Arellano High School.

There were also the out-of-school youth from urban poor communities in Quezon City, Tondo, Caloocan, Sampaloc and Sta. Mesa. Provincial representatives from Laguna, Mindoro, Romblon, Cavite, Pampanga, La Union, Ilocos Sur, as well as the regional representatives from Bicol and Negros, were also present.

Kabataan Partylist National Council President Raymond Palatino said that they have more than 100,000 members nationwide, coming from the Sangguniang Kabataan (Youth Council), student councils and student publications. Out-of-school youth from urban poor communities in the National Capital Region (NCR) account for about 80 percent of the group’s membership.

Second time around

Palatino said that this is the second time that their youth party is running for party-list representation. The first was in the May 2004 elections when they garnered more than 213,000 votes, or 40,000 votes short of getting one seat in the House of Representatives.

At that time, the party was named Anak ng Bayan (literally, sons and daughters of the nation). This, Palatino said, became one of the problems they faced in the canvassing of votes. Another partlist group, Akbayan, had earlier filed a resolution at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) that all AnakBayan votes should be counted in favor of Akbayan and not Anak ng Bayan.

Palatino said that they lost thousands of votes because Anak ng Bayan has often been mistaken as AnakBayan, a multi-sectoral youth group which is one of the founding organizations of Anak ng Bayan.

Anak ng Bayan filed a case in Comelec but there has been no action to date, he added.

The National Council of Anak ng Bayan then decided to change its name to Kabataan Partylist to “get rid of the confusion” and to “be more focused on our target audience,” Palatino said.

Youth-oriented platform

Palatino said that the partylist’s main thrust is to “promote youth welfare and advance youth concerns through dialogues, congress lobbying, and active intervention in House bills regarding education, specifically the regulation of tuition.”

Although it did not get a seat at the House of Representatives in the last elections, Palatino said the partylist group actively participated in congressional and parliamentary struggles in the last three years. In fact, Palatino said they have compelled the Commission on Higher Education (Ched) to review the setting of tuition guidelines in both private and public colleges and universities.

Since its membership is mostly from the out-of-school youth, Palatino said that they are also campaigning for access to education. The Kabataan Partylist has also conducted leadership training and disaster relief operations in the provinces of Aurora, Quezon, Leyte and just recently, in the most devastated areas hit by typhoon Reming in the Bicol Region. Palatino said that they have conducted literacy seminars for children aged seven to 11 with volunteer students as instructors.

Six nominees

Red and blue flags were waved and miniature styro-balls and confetti were thrown into the air as the six nominees were called on stage.

Kabataan Partylist insiders said that Palatino was a unanimous choice as first nominee. The other nominees were Mark Louise Galanga (Ilocos), Mary Francis Veloso (Cebu) , Angela Colmenares (Caloocan City), Enrico delas Peñas Almonguerra (NCR) and Ma. Clarizza Zamacona Singson.

An education graduate of UP Diliman, Palatino was chair of the university student council of UP-Diliman and president of the National Union of Students in the Philippines (NUSP), the biggest alliance of student councils and governments in the country. In 2004, Palatino was one of five awardees of the United Nations Association of the Philippines (UNAP) for his exemplary contributions in “youth empowerment.”

Galanga earned his education degree from the University of Northern Philippines (UNP). He was president of the Ilocos Sur Youth Union and the Ilocos Region chapter of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP).

Veloso, a product of University of San Carlos, was president of College Y (USC chapter) and chair of the Cebu chapter of Anakbayan.

A graduate of PCU, Colmenares is currently treasurer of the Kabataan Party.

Almonguerra was student council president of PCU where he worked as community extension worker immediately after earning a degree in social work.

A consistent honor student and a history graduate of UP in Miag-ao, Singson was an officer of youth groups like the Gabriela-Youth, League of Filipino Students (LFS) and Anakbayan. (Bulatlat.com)

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