Kabataan says the youth have an important role in the coming elections as more than 40 percent of the voters are young Filipinos. “The youth can even dictate who they want to win in the May 2010 elections,” says Rep. Raymond Palatino.
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA — Candidates, big television networks, NGOs, and other organizations preparing for the May 2010 elections have been courting the youth to participate actively in voters’ education and in ensuring a clean and honest elections. The youth have been encouraged to vote wisely, to have their voices heard.
In next year’s elections, however, the youth are seeking a bigger role in governance by having their representatives elected in Congress.
“We plan to win not one or two but three seats in congress. To achieve this, we need almost one million votes. Can we do this, my comrades?” Kabataan Rep. Raymond Palatino asked members of the Kabataan Partylist during its national convention last month at the University of the Philippines. Thousands from all over the country attended the convention.
Kabataan, the first and only youth partylist group in the Philippins, has a nationwide network of members to include its founding organizations such as the National Union of Students, College Editors Guild of the Philippines, League of Filipino Students, Student Christian Movement of the Philippines, Anakbayan and Kabataang Artista para sa Tunay na Kalayaan.
“Kabataan Partylist is not only comprised of the founding members and organizations because there are more youth in the provinces who are not affiliated with these youth organizations but are nevertheless active in the partylist group and are involved in working for change. Represent them and do not let them be marginalized,” independent candidate for senator Satur Ocampo said in the convention.
Liza Maza, also an independent senatorial candidate, said she has great trust in the capability of the youth to push for change that would do away with the “rotten system” existing today in Philippine society.
Kabataan Partylist submitted its certificate of candidacy before the Commissions of Elections last November 29. This would be its third time to run for a partylist seat. Formerly known as Anak ng Bayan, Kabataan deplored what it called a “state-directed, military-managed fraud and terrorism” during the 2004 elections, which, it said, targeted six progressive partylist groups, thereby denying them a seat in Congress.
The Anak ng Bayan national president and top nominee during the 2004 elections, Apolinario Alvarez, took exception to the practice of election officers then of crediting ballots with Anakbayan written on the partylist vote to Akbayan instead of Anak ng Bayan, especially in Mindanao and Metro Manila. Alvarez accused Akbayan of distributing letters to the Board of Election Inspectors asking that Anakbayan votes be counted in their favor. Thus, the youth partyist group changed its name to Kabataan in time for the 2007 elections.
Kabataan Partylist finally landed a seat in Congress when the Supreme Court issued its decision on the case Banat vs. Comelec, promulgated in April 2009, junking the First Party Rule and declaring the two-percent threshold as unconstitutional. The High Court came out with a method of computing the number of seats allotted to the different partylist groups in order to fill-up the maximum 55 seats allocated for partylist representation in Congress. Palatino, together with Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares and Anakpawis Rep. Joel Maglunsod, among others, benefited from the said decision.
“We trust that we can get the one million votes that we need through our strong grassroots organizations. They are hardworking and creative in their campaign strategies. But most of all, Kabataan has a concrete agenda for change,” Palatino said.
Palatino highlighted the fact that the youth have a big role in the coming elections as more than 40 percent of the voters come from their sector. “Actually, the youth can even dictate who they want to win in the May 2010 elections,” Palatino said.
He added that he would not be surprised if most of the candidates would try to seek their attention and support. Palatino laid down the agenda of the youth by which they would measure the different candidates.
First in the list is reform of Philippine education. Palatino said there is an urgent need to increase the budget for public schools to give poor Filipino families access to education. Also, he said, there is a need to provide decent employment to and protection for the rights of workers. Among the policies that, Palatino said, would need to be promulgated is the prohibition against the practice of labor contractualization, which is detrimental to the security of tenure of workers. “If there are employment opportunities in the country, the youth would no longer have to stop schooling and work abroad,” Palatino said.
He added that good governance should also be a key platform of every candidate. This includes holding public officials accountable for their misdeeds. He mentioned particularly the lack of accountability of the present administration. Palatino said a leader should prioritize the needs of the Filipino people over that of foreign interests. He or she, added Palatino, should respect and protect the rights of the people.
“We do not want a leader who is subservient to the Americans. We also do not want a fascist leader,” said Palatino
Lastly, Palatino said, the next president should have a clear platform for protecting nature and battling the effects of climate change.
“Overall, we need a new leader who is patriotic; a leader with a heart for the poor; and a leader who will support the dreams of the youth to have a better future,” Palatino concluded. (Bulatlat.com)