Youth leaders from all over the Philippines gathered Feb. 22-25 in simultaneous youth camps to commemorate Edsa People Power and to wield a new kind of “people power”—youth power—in the 2019 National Elections.
Youth camps were held to give the youth a platform to connect, collaborate, and create. The camps were organized as avenues for critical discourse on pressing social issues, and to formulate, exchange, and nurture creative ideas, innovations, and concrete solutions for societal concerns and develop strategic actions toward nation building.
According to Active Vista executive director Leni Velasco, “The youth camps held were the youth’s response to the call of the times—to fight together for a future their generation deserves and to wield a vision of a Philippines where rights and freedoms are upheld, guaranteed, and protected; where democracy works to benefit the lives of the people; and where citizens are empowered to contribute to building a better world.”
About 175 youth leaders participated in the simultaneous youth camps in North and South Luzon and in Visayas. The camps discussed an overview of the national and regional human rights situation that would guide the youth leaders to craft a human rights-based youth agenda that they will campaign for and demand for candidates to adapt as their platform. They also affirmed the youth’s commitment to stand in solidarity as a sector against attacks on the people’s rights, freedoms, and dignity.
DAKILA executive director Micheline Rama said, “The youth camps are just a start of a series of activities that the youth sector has lined up to consolidate its power as potent social force. There are around 20 million youth voters in the coming elections and the youth vote has the power to change the landscape of the elections. History has proven that it is the youth that shapes the nation.”
With 20 million youth voters, the youth takes up one-third of the voting population.
The youth camp program was built on the proposed agenda and campaign crafted by the Heroes Hub Youth Empowerment Summit, a conference attended by 250 youth leaders, that was held late last year during the commemoration of Bonifacio Day and the celebration of the 70th Human Rights Day.
The campaign has also launched a youth survey to reflect the youth’s positions and stands to vital national issues such as EJKs, Charter Change, and Martial Law. The survey and youth agenda shall be presented to the public on April 9, and will kick off the 32-day campaign for a rights-based youth agenda in the National Midterm Elections 2019.
“Our Filipino youth is not apathetic. The large turnout of registered youth voters has proven that,” pointed out Velasco.
Velasco added, “In fact, youth involvement has taken many forms, not only in the streets but in virtual spaces like their social media accounts. We have to realize that the youth, with its very nature, shall never be confined to traditional forms of involvement. And that is precisely why those in power and those who are trying to control, twist and revise our national narrative should beware.”
The youth camps are multi-organizational endeavor of the artist-activist collective DAKILA through its Active Vista Center, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network-Philippines, and the Center for Youth Advocacy and Networking with the support of the CHR-GOJUST Human Rights Project.
Two more youth camps shall be held in Metro Manila on March 3 and in Mindanao in April.
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