By JOAN GARCIA
ILOCOS SUR — With the theme “Today’s Youth, Tomorrow’s Leaders”, the 2012 Ilocos Youth Summit was able to gather more than 200 youth and students in the region last August 25 at the Ilocos Sur Polytechnic State College (ISPSC) in Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur.
The summit was spearheaded by Kabataan Partylist-Ilocos together with other youth organizations in the region, including the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) of Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur, and La Union based cultural group Ugnay Sining.
According to Lee Biscarra, Kabataan Partylist Vice President for Luzon and fifth nominee, the summit is the culminating activity of the consultations that they have conducted during the past months.
“We were able to conduct consultations with the youth and students in the provinces of La Union and Ilocos Sur regarding the problems that they face today. The summit aims to talk about those problems and as a result, come up with the Ilocos Youth Agenda which we will use as a basis for future programs and projects,” Biscarra said.
The agenda, Biscarra added, will also be presented to local and national government officials as well as government agencies so that their programs and policies can respond to the real needs of the youth in the region.
Ilocos Youth Agenda
The agenda comprises of five points, namely, Free and Quality Education, Health Services, Environmental Protection, Upholding Human Dignity and On Economic Needs.
Biscarra said that these five points summarize the major problems of the Ilocano youth that they were able to gather during the consultations.
During the summit, the delegates were then divided into caucuses and were able to talk about the solutions to these problems.
One of the delegates who sat at the education caucus shared that he thought that he already knew about the problems with regards to the sector. However, during the caucus, he was able to realize that the education problem in the country is deeply rooted in its colonial, commercial and fascist nature. As a result, the delegates created the Education for All alliance, which will emphasize on the campaign for a free and quality education that is also easily accessible to the people.
In the environment caucus, the delegates talked mostly about the current threats of the magnetite mining in the region, especially in the coastal areas. An update of the Writ of Kalikasan filed against the Altamina Exploration Resources Inc. was also shared.
After the caucus, the delegates declared that it is every human being’s right to live in a healthy environment. They therefore recognize the need to exert more efforts in strengthening the youth’s commitment to protect mother earth and preserve life. Their solutions include conducting information dissemination activities, a signature campaign and the creation of an environmental youth alliance.
The creation of an alliance to uphold human dignity was also done during the summit. The Tanggulan Youth Network was created as a response to the clamor of the delegates to fight for human dignity in recognition that at the core of an individual’s dignity is the protection of his or her rights.
In addition, participants in the caucuses also talked about several bills in Congress that can help address the problems that were identified. These include Kabataan Partylist’s HB 3703 (Three Year Moratorium on Tuition and Other Fees), and HB 1962 (Bill repealing the Automatic Appropriation on Debt Servicing and Instituting Automatic Six Percent of the GDP to Education), Bayan Muna’s HB 4726 (People’s Mining Bill) and HB 1483 (Anti-Discrimination Bill), Anakpawis Partylist’s HB 375 (An Act Providing for a P125 Daily Across the Board Increase in Salary Rates of Employees and Workers in the Private Sector and For other Purposes) and Gabriela Women’s Party’s HB 3433 (Repeal of EVAT Law).
At the end of the caucuses, the delegates re-affirmed their commitment to continue to seek and work for solutions to the problems of the youth.
During the summit, several personalities expressed their support and solidarity for the activity.
In the message sent by Vice Governor of Ilocos Sur Deogracias Victor Savellano, he emphasized that the youth “are not only leaders of tomorrow, but also the partners of today.”
Rep. Teddy Casiño of Bayan Muna Party-list was also able to send a video message calling on the youth to rise to the challenge and called it the youth’s task to actively participate in nation-building.
“How do we categorize tomorrow’s leaders? Is it to run in the future for an elective post in the local government? Or is it to lead your constituents in protecting the rights and the welfare of the people without holding a government post? Either way, as tomorrow’s leaders, there is only one thing that you need to know, that is public service without expecting anything in return. Whatever path we choose, it is more important that we already learn and practice good leadership that does not compromise our principle of serving in the interests of the people,” Casiño said.