August 12, 2011
As the Filipino youth celebrate with the youth across the globe this 12th of August as their International Youth Day, they face it with a sense of hope tempered by the bitter reality that more battles for their rights and welfare have to be fought. As of now, the Filipino youth has a long road to tread to reach a destination that secures their future and ensures their rights.
To this end, Akbayan Youth calls for these key measures to address the immediate needs of the Filipino youth: Students Rights and Welfare (STRAW) Bill, the Security of Tenure Bill, the SK Reform Bill, the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill, and the improvement and strengthening of Public Education. These are not mere pipe dreams beyond reach. We believe that with political will, our government can ensure that these four important measures can be passed.
Our call for the passage of the STRAW Bill is grounded on our belief that the political and civil liberties of students must be strengthened within the campus. As citizens of this country, the very basic rights guaranteed them by the constitution cannot end when step inside our classrooms.
We also call for the immediate passage of the Security of Tenure Bill to protect young workers in the country. The harsh conditions of contractualization has made employment uncertain for Filipino youth and made them susceptible to abuse by employers who prioritize profits over people. We cannot resign ourselves to beg for meager benefits with the threat of jobs loss hanging like a Damocles sword above our heads. We must ensure that decent work is available to all.
We also believe that as leaders in the future, the youth in this country must have the access to halls of power and governance. Such access to political office must be in the context in good governance and for the full expression of democracy. The Sangguniang Kabataan is a unique practice in governance since it embodies the youth’s participation in governance work. However, we are aware that it has been abused to advance the interests of a few powerful individuals are as a way to distribute political favors. But we cannot see that it must be abolished. It must be reformed and empowered instead. This is the reason we seek the passage of the SK Reform and Empowerment Bill.
The youth also need the immediate passage of the RH Bill in order to equip the youth with the proper education for them to understand and care for their sexual health. This piece of legislation will seek to protect the youth by ensuring greater access to medical services especially now that the youth sector is the most prone to unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.
Lastly, we seek for greater government support for public education. It is necessary that investment in public education must reach a respectable 6% of GNP to address the needs of the youth. However, as of now, the budget allocated to education is still a dismal half of that target. We therefore urge immediate steps to ensure that the budget allocation for education will increase yearly. We also urge that the state should provide quality public education freely available for all its citizens.
These are not demands that are beyond the bounds of reason although we recognize the long struggle that must be undertaken to achieve it. But we believe that the current government can exercise its political will if it chose to do so. If it does, then the youth will be behind to support it.###