“It is important that we make a stand on issues in our society because in the future, we too, will be confronted with the same problems plaguing our society. If we take a stand now, we not only fight for our right, but also for the future of the children.” – Alain Villegas, DLSU student
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – National Hero’s day is commemorated every fourth Monday of August and is a national holiday. But while some students enjoyed their rest over the long weekend, several youth and students remembered the nation’s heroes by joining the protest against pork barrel.
Nepo, 19, for one, could have enjoyed his long weekend but he opted to join other students in the streets to protest against all forms of pork barrel in Luneta Park on Monday, August 25.
“Enough with the bum steer,” he said. He criticized President Benigno S. Aquino III on his stubbornness and his attack on the Supreme Court after it declared the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) unconstitutional. “It was already declared unconstitutional, yet he kept defending his wrong acts.”
Nepo is a third year Political Science student of University of the Philippines-Manila. It was his first time to attend a protest action because in their province, they are prohibited from doing so. “We were raised thinking that joining rallies is wrong. But when I became aware of the issue, I realized that joining rallies is not bad at all. There is something wrong in the system and that is why the people are protesting,” he said in an interview with Bulatlat.com.
Students from different universities also joined Monday’s protest action led by anti-pork barrel youth alliance Youth Act Now. Youth and students assembled at the Plaza Salamanca Street and marched toward Luneta Park.
There were delegations from the University of Santo Tomas, National University, San Beda College, University of the East Manila, Lyceum of the Philippines, Mapua Institute of Technology, Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, and Colegio de San Juan de Letran, University of the Philippines, De La Salle University, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, and Philippine Women’s University.
“Today, as we respond to the call of the times, we can say that we are all heroes. We are a nation of heroes: resilient and staunch in the face of adversity, ready to fight against the evil that is pork barrel system even if it means going against the current and confronting the formidable status quo,” said Victor Villanueva, spokesman of Youth Act Now.
For the future
National hero Jose Rizal said the youth is the hope of the nation. For Alain Villegas, 19, a first year law student of De La Salle University (DLSU), now is the time for the youth to live up to Rizal’s expectations. “It is important that we make a stand on issues in our society because in the future, we too, will be confronted with the same problems plaguing our society. If we take a stand now, we not only fight for our right, but also for the future of the children.”
Brenda Pureza, 19, a third year international studies student in Miriam College said the youth should always get involved in issues confronting the country. “Even if we are not yet working, it doesn’t mean that we cannot do anything for the betterment of our country. A few years from now we will also work and we don’t want our taxes to be spent only on corrupt practices.” She said the youth comprises a big part of the population, and if they will come together for one cause, “genuine change” is possible to achieve.
Ira Del Mar, 19, a third year entrepreneur major of DLSU said he attended the rally to show his discontent against the government. “The Supreme Court has decided that the DAP and pork barrel should be abolished. Yet there are still revelations that there is hidden pork. The problem persists and it is unacceptable. Patronage politics is really not helping the poor majority.”
He also said youth will be the future leaders of the country, and it is important for the youth to not only understand the problems plaguing the society, but to participate in resolving them.
Villegas, Pureza and Del Mar are yet to register as voters but said they will definitely sign the People’s Initiative signature campaign for the abolition of all forms of pork barrel. Voters’ registration is until October 2015.
For Basilio Hulleza Sepe, 19, advertising major of University of Santo Tomas, protesting against the same issue again and again engenders frustration and hopelessness. But if not for the protests, he said, the people might not know about the wrongdoings of the government.
“It’s a way of showing that the government must do something. There is a problem that is why there are protests. The youth who are coming here (in the protest) should learn something and they should come here because they are fighting for a cause.”
‘The youth should awaken’
For the youth who chooses not to participate in last Monday’s protest, Angelica Samson, 18, third year International Studies in Miriam College has this to say; “For the youth who are not here, because maybe they don’t see the relevance, think of our parents who are working hard for our future and are paying enormous taxes. And yet what does the government do? We should be awakened. Instead of ranting, we should also do something about it.”
Nepo on the other hand said that the youth should not become a keyboard warrior who is only active in the social media. “The youth should also be mobilized. This is a right that we should practice as citizens of this country.”
“We should be aware of what is happening in our country. From there, we can act and fight for our future and we will see our strength in changing society,” said Villegas.
“As long as the majority of the Filipino people are starving to death, physically and politically, the Filipinos will not falter in seeking truth, accountability and genuine social change, said Sarah Elago, national president of National Union of Students in the Philippines (NUSP).
Elago said that last Monday’s protest is only the beginning. “We encourage the youth and students to join and participate in future protest actions against corruption. This is a fight for our future.”