Kabataan, tayo and pagbabago!

Message of Kabataan Party-list Rep. Raymond Palatino to the Filipino youth on the historical event of seating the first youth representative in Congress

Five years in the making for the country’s sole youth sectoral party-list, but better late than never and victory is still sweet for all Filipino youth. Kabataan Party-list, the largest youth party in the country, represented the youth sector in the 2007 elections.

It was the second time for our organization to run in the party-list elections. In 2004, we ran under our previous name, Anak ng Bayan, and were among the top choices for party-list based on pre-election surveys. Anak ng Bayan, however, fell prey to massive cheating. A significant number of our votes were anomalously counted in favor of another party-list group, thus our change of name in the 2007 party-list elections.

Despite not winning, we went on with our advocacies and continued to carry on with our principles and general program of action with the help of our founding organizations, such as the National Union of Students of the Philippines, College Editors Guild of the Philippines, League of Filipino Students and Anakbayan and other supporters nationwide and abroad.

Now, five years after our first electoral bid, Kabataan Party-list has finally secured a seat in the House of Representatives per SC GR No. 179271, promulgated April 29, 2009. Now, we are happy to convey the message to all Filipino youth that the SC Resolution, in effect, has once again marked the youth’s rightful place in history by granting the first ever youth sectoral representation in the House of Representatives.

This is truly a historical event and we share this resounding victory to all Filipino youth who voted for and supported Kabataan Party-list. We are overwhelmed but more than ready to take on the task and challenge of being the sole voice of the youth in Congress.

We are youth from different walks of life. We have long-ago advocated for the youth to devote its intellect, energy and courage to building a better society devoid of corruption, inequality and social injustice. We are youth that foster active participation in nation-building, good governance and change. In this junction in history in light of our recent victory, we, the youth, are change. Kabataan, tayo ang pagbabago.

We will uphold, promote and defend the interests of the youth to be able to harness our potential as a vital, albeit marginalized, sector in society.

The Filipino youth have always played a pivotal role in ushering in significant changes in history. We have always been at the forefront of uprisings and revolutions every time the social, political and economic conditions in society became too intolerable for Filipinos to endure. It was young men and women who prevailed in the leadership and membership of the revolutionary army and other patriotic forces against Spanish colonialism, against US colonization, against Japanese fascism and against the puppet regimes in the Philippines. It was also the Filipino youth who were the biggest marchers and rallyists during the historical First Quarter Storm of 1970, the people power uprising that toppled the Marcos dictatorship in 1986 and once again in the similar uprising that ousted the Estrada regime in 2001.

We are more than willing to take up the cudgels our forebears left us. Right now, a rotten system of governance and a severe global economic crisis confront us but we rise to the challenge of our times. In the past eight years of the Arroyo administration, the youth has also always been amongst the most vigilant and vocal against issues of electoral fraud, corruption and plunder, human rights violations, tyranny and social injustice causing poverty, hunger and indecent living conditions to the people.

While we recognize that one year is too short a time in the House of Representatives, we pledge to work tenfold to efficiently and effectively bring our new brand of politics to Philippine government. To be able to fully realize this, we appeal to all Filipino youth to work hand-in-hand with us. We reiterate the need for active youth participation in nation-building and continue to rely on the strength and unity of the youth movement to reinforce our sole youth voice in Congress. We will immediately register our opposition against charter change and join moves by other progressive party-lists to disqualify human rights violator Ret. Gen. Jovito Palparan from assuming party-list representation.

We are also now consulting with youth from different sectors to aid in our plans to immediately submit for legislation bills concerning youth empowerment in governance, employment for the 900,000 new graduates, and tuition fee hike moratorium, among others.

Finally, we look forward to bigger things that lie ahead in the future. It is the Arroyo administration’s last year in office and the youth are anticipating and working for significant changes come 2010. As early as now, we pledge to work for a transparent and clean 2010 elections that will realize the youth’s clamor for good governance and change. We are set to embark on a nationwide youth voters’ registration and education campaign in the aim to collectively mobilize the broadest number of young Filipinos to register, vote, and guard the 2010 ballot. Change is bound to happen if and when the youth strives for it.

Kabataan, maraming salamat! Kabataan, tayo ang pagbabago.

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