Students join minds to craft a comprehensive youth agenda

youth agendaPolitical Science Department Chair Jorge V. Tigno shares important insights on democracy and elections to participants of the Youth Agenda seminar-workshop. Photo from UP Department of Political Science Facebook page.

This election season, it's time for a united Filipino youth to issue a clarion call to action on the most important issues that the country faces.

This was the idea that guided both the facilitators and participants of “The Youth’s Agenda for the Next Philippine Administration: A Seminar-Workshop”, held last April 4 at the College of Social Sciences and Philosophy (CSSP) Audio-Visual Room of Palma Hall, University of the Philippines Diliman.

The event, which was opened by CSSP Dean Dr. Grace Aguiling-Dalisay and United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) National Commission of the Philippines Secretary-General Dr. Virginia Miralao, was organized and facilitated by the Department of Political Science.

Forty students representing different universities and colleges in Metro Manila attended the event, thoughtfully engaging with plenary speakers Dr. Jorge V. Tigno and Dr. Jean Encinas-Franco on topics of democracy, elections, political efficacy, governance and creating an agenda.

Tigno, chairman of the Department of Political Science, explained the concept of democracy and how the participation of the people in the “sharing of the burden” of building a quality democratic regime is as important as the government’s action.

“There are certain demands that are attached to the people themselves. If they want to have this kind of democratic government, then they have to be also informed, aware and good at being ‘the people.' [A] democratic government is only as good as its people,” explained Tigno. From this vantage point, he explained how the youth is “the bigger stakeholder” that needs to engage more and better in the process of achieving a better democratic order.

Encinas-Franco, on the other hand, provided the youth with salient concepts to guide them in creating a good agenda that could be taken up by candidates, from all levels. She drove home the all-important point that the youth’s engagement in politics in the form of an agenda is a step towards them becoming not just “recipients of programs” but rather “agents of change”.

“Politics is a matter too serious to leave to politicians. We must take them to task for the promises they make during this election,” Encinas-Franco said. The youth as a sector is instrumental, she added, not only in demanding accountability but also in demanding meaningful solutions to problems that they face, as well as the problems that are not under their traditional purview.

The participants were up to the task, and by the day’s end they were able to draft a comprehensive youth agenda on six issues with the help of political science faculty: disaster management with Dr. Maria Ela L. Atienza; environment with Dr. Ruth Lusterio-Rico; migration with Dr. Jean Paul Zialcita and Professor Jan Robert R. Go; foreign policy with Dr. Aries A. Arugay; and peace with Professor Dennis Quilala.

On disaster management, the key points of the youth participants’ agenda included the integration of disaster risk reduction and management into the K-12 curriculum and the creation of a more holistic disaster rehabilitation system that integrates livelihood with relocation of people displaced by calamities.

On the environment, participants identified irresponsible mining and air pollution as the most pressing problems that need to be dealt with. In their agenda, they seek to solve these through stricter implementation of current laws by involving local governments and communities more (mining), and through better traffic management and better urban planning (air pollution).

On migration, participants included the institutionalization of the reporting process of bad recruiter practices, the streamlining of bureaucratic processes that involve migrants and migrant workers, and making financial management training available for families benefitting from overseas Filipino workers as part of their agenda. Their foreign relations agenda, on the other hand, emphasized the importance of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as a focal point for the creation of a more coherent foreign policy.

On peace, the youth participants identified the lack of broad recognition of marginalized sectors as a main issue. They seek to solve this through the inclusion of marginalized sectors in the Philippine Development Plan, the providing of better cultural and peace education at all levels, the review or repeal of laws that gravely affect marginalized groups (e.g., IPRA, Mining Act, treaties), and constant, inclusive and non-violent dialogue.

Finally, on education, the youth participants would like to see an overhaul of the professional regulation of teachers, including the Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET). They want curricula to promote knowledge on agriculture and biodiversity, as well as improved access to education by reversing the militarization in many rural parts of the country. A stricter regulation of tertiary education programs by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) was also proposed.

A second Youth Agenda workshop-seminar will be conducted on April 19, 2016, at the LCC Concourse in Tabaco City.