A broad national youth movement, #WeTheBrave, launched its call for a Vote for Sovereignty and Human Rights in the 2019 National Elections on April 9, 2019, during a press conference held in Quezon City. Coinciding with the National Day of Valor (Araw ng Kagitingan), youth leaders representing around 100 youth groups nationwide vowed to show courage in the face of looming threats to rights, freedoms and national sovereignty.
The Filipino youth are expressed their indignance towards the government’s continued indifference to national protests on the brazen occupation of China in Philippine territories. According to Rafaela David, Executive Director of the Center for Youth Advocacy and Networking(CYAN), “The Philippines in not for sale. We must put in office those who will be brave enough to defend our territory and people, not sell us out to China. Today we commemorate Filipino bravery in the face of Japanese invasion. We resisted then. We will resist once more against China’s occupation in the West Philippine Sea”.
Meanwhile, DAKILA Executive Director Micheline Rama, said, “It is the youth of past generations that fought long and hard against colonial rule and repression. It is an insult to their heroic struggle that this government allows a foreign aggressor to bully our country into dubious debts and drive Filipinos away from their own sea and land.”
Initiated by CYAN, the Active Vista Center, and the artist-‐activist collective DAKILA, the movement represents around 600 youth leaders of more than 300 youth groups nationwide. The formation of the movement was a product of a series of youth summit, camps, and assemblies that educated the youth on human rights and crafted a rights-‐based governance agenda for the 2019 Midterm National Elections.
“#WeTheBrave debunks the stereotyped misconception that today’s youth are apathetic. In fact, it is the courage of the youth of this generation to fight politically orchestrated spread of disinformation, to oppose the creeping authoritarianism, and to stand up against discrimination, misogyny, and repression that gives a beacon of hope to our people in these dark and trying times,” added Leni Velasco, Executive Director of Active Vista, one of the groups that started the initiative.
With the coming Midterm National Elections as a battlefield, the youth unveiled its battle plan for its strategic and tactical offense and defense to uphold national sovereignty and to win the war for a human rights agenda in the elections. With 20 Million registered youth voters, Filipino youth comprise 1/3 of the voting population this coming election.
Velasco further added, “This Araw ng Kagitingan, the Filipino youth reclaims their heroic role in nation-‐building by invoking the courage of generations of Filipino youth who dedicated their lives for the rights, freedoms, and sovereignty of our nation. The collective power of the youth is in their idealism, in their intrinsic nature to rebel against structures and systems that enslave them and constricts their growth, and in their creativity to find ways to achieve victory amidst struggles. This election, they vow to support candidates who truly champion human rights.”
The movement called on their fellow youth to take inspiration from the courage of one another. It presented a Youth Agenda for Human Rights crafted by youth leaders all over the country. A nationwide survey among the youth is also being conducted to know what issues concern the youth most; Filipino youth may participate in the online survey at http://www.WeTheFuture.ph.
Rafaela David of CYAN said, “Since 2016, we see our leaders turn against the Filipino people. The poor are executed, women are attacked, journalists are silenced, and the rule of law rendered meaningless. We see our leaders who choose to be tyrants and terrorize the people they were elected to serve. But history has shown that in the face of dictators, the Filipino youth chose to become heroes. Today we choose to be heroes again.
We will not let dictatorship feed on our fears. Ang atin ay isang bayan ng mga magigiting, and we the youth answer the call to be brave. “
In ending, the youth leaders signed with their thumbmarks a placard urging the Filipino Youth to vote for national sovereignty and human rights. #WeTheBrave suggested 5 brave things that the Filipino Youth can do for their country this election. The list includes being in the frontlines of political discourse and defending against fake news and disinformation while sparking meaningful discussions with respect and empathy.
“We, the Youth of the Philippines, stand together amidst adversity to fight for the future we deserve. We refuse to be the generation that allowed the evils of society to prosper and take away our humanity. We will not grow our families in a culture of hate, violence, and intolerance. We will build a future of this nation where rights, freedoms, and dignity are upheld and protected everywhere, at all times. We stand brave because our very future is at stake,” said Micheline Rama of DAKILA to end her statement.
Precious Marie Gunayon
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