August 31, 2021
by James Leonard M. Bautista
In Rizal’s greatly admired and most notable words: “Kabataan ang Pag-asa ng Bayan’’, the Filipino youth is highly regarded as a salient in propelling the nation forward and in achieving sustainable wellness and well-being shared by the Filipino people. Our glorious past and present situation as a nation is witnessed by many youth-led movements and initiatives, may it be geared towards attaining liberation from the oppressors or nobly organizing community pantries and relief operations amidst the coronavirus disease pandemic.
Certainly, the future of the Filipino nation greatly depends on its youth because it is the pivotal stage wherein a person transitions from childhood to adulthood, thereby becoming capable contributors to nation-building. Hence, developing the youth’s intellect, character, and abilities through volunteerism will assure the country with a more engaged citizenry who will influence the national and local governance processes, challenge the dominant structures and systems, and improve the conditions of the country by providing alternative pro-youth perspectives. This noble initiative and this toolkit is a concrete expression of investing in the Filipino youth and in creating and nurturing civic engagement spaces for and with them.
The iLinang Philippines’ initiative of creating issue-based scorecards will focus on the impact brought by the leaders that we will be choosing for the upcoming National and Local Election this coming May 2022. The iLinang goes beyond the customary voters’ education initiatives as this will be an avenue for the assembly of youth development actors, advocates, champions, and activists. iLinang is an election reform initiative endeavors to mobilize the youth as forces of change in the upcoming 2022 Philippine National and Local Elections.
Anchored to the Philippine Youth Development Plan 2017-2022 which aims to enable, ensure, and promote active, meaningful, and holistic participation of young Filipinos in society centers the participation for the youth to intensify flare in taking their voice from Mindanao to reach greater heights. The following were the focuses developed centers which are identified after some series of national and regional consultations:
- Economic Empowerment
- Social Inclusion and Equity
- Peacebuilding and Security
- Active Citizenship
- Global Mobility*
The following outcome statements will serve as a guide for the Mindanaoan Youths in choosing the platforms that are deemed beneficial and timely will bring ‘light of hope’ as once again, leaders, from the local to the national levels will again be elected. The checklists, in a form of an outcome statement, were the product of an intensive, semi-structured, and participatory consultation among the fifty selected workshop participants of iLinang Philippines-Mindanao Cohort.
The statements will serve as a basis for objectively scrutinizing election candidates’ knowledge, experience, and likelihood to support, act, and uphold these identified issues of Mindanaoan youth. The goal of using the statements as part of the issue-based scorecards is to promote democracy by aligning the rights-claimants needs with the would-be duty-bearers ability to respond and address these challenges should they win the 2022 Philippine National and Local Elections.
- Mindanaoan youth will have equal access to quality mental, sexual and reproductive, and other health services.
- Mindanaoan youth will have reliable and accessible sources of health information and data.
- Mindanaoan youth will be provided with adequate funding for health services and facilities.
- Mindanaoan youth will take part in collaborative health-related partnerships among the private and public sectors.
- Mindanaoan youth will be guided and educated in exercising responsible, culture-sensitive, and context-appropriate sexual and reproductive health practices to curb adolescent pregnancies.
- Mindanaoan youth will be provided with increased budget allocation and communication subsidies to cope with modern and dynamic learning modalities.
- Mindanaoan youth will be taught peace education and will be actively involved in healthy processes of communications like peace talks and reconciliation efforts*.
- Mindanaoan youth will be provided with more scholarship opportunities in culture and the arts.
- Mindanaoan youth, especially the deserving indigent learners, will have access to a democratized process of scholarship applications.
- Mindanaoan youth will be taught digital literacy through government and nongovernment organization efforts.
- Mindanaoan youth will be provided with sufficient executive efforts to guarantee a ligtas balik eskwela.
- Mindanaoan youth, especially those from conflict-stricken areas, will be provided with wellness and well-being programs.
- Mindanaoan youth will be provided and will undergo intensive economic empowerment activities such as upskilling activities and social entrepreneurship programs.
- Mindanaoan youth will be able to enter the labor force equipped with relevant skills, mindset, education, information, and networks.
- Mindanaoan youth will be gainfully employed regardless of their cultural and gender identities.
- Mindanaoan youth will be protected by the state through applicable laws and policies that promote job-related safety, welfare, and inclusivity.
SOCIAL INCLUSION AND EQUITY
- Mindanaoan youth in remote areas will have access to digital technology, and other flexible approaches with respect to ease of use.
- Mindanaoan youth will be provided with localized and contextualized election-related information, hence raising awareness of the importance of the election and their right to vote.
- Mindanaoan youth, especially those who belong to religious and cultural minorities, will have access to quality education and scholarship opportunities*.
- Mindanaoan youth with different Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, Expressions, and Sex Characteristics (SOGIESC) and those coming from indigenous cultural communities (ICCs) will be safeguarded (free) from any discrimination and abuse through an established sector/ law that caters to these concerns.
PEACEBUILDING AND SECURITY
- Mindanaoan youth, especially young girls, and women, will have an active role and responsibility in peacebuilding efforts and shall also receive protection as they take part in peace negotiations and initiatives.
- Mindanaoan youth will be equipped with the necessary skills in multi-stakeholder negotiation, mediation, values transformation, and conflict resolution.
- Mindanaoan youth will be educated on culturally sensitive, gender-responsive, and peace-promoting approaches to conflict management and transformation.
- Mindanaoan youth in IDP camps will be supported with dignified and transformative immediate response, rehabilitation, and resettlement programs.
- Mindanaoan youth will be safeguarded from violence and human rights violations inflicted by state forces or terrorist groups especially on vulnerable groups.
GOVERNANCE AND ACTIVE CITIZENSHIP
- Mindanaoan youth will be actively involved in the creation/revision/passage of local youth codes aimed at developing their leadership potentials.
- Mindanao youth will have an equal and equitable opportunity of running for public office, hence, preventing the proliferation of political dynasties including SK in the validation of the SK Reform Law.
- Mindanaoan youth will be equipped with the necessary skills in fact-checking and flagging especially news and information related to governance, history, and politics.
- Mindanaoan youth will be accorded with increased witness protection and prosecution.
- Mindanaoan youth will have permanent seats as dedicated, full-time, permanent, and independent Youth Development Officers in their respective municipalities and cities.
- Mindanaoan youth will uphold the principles of good governance through the creation of a good seal of SK Governance.
- Mindanaoan youth will be actively involved in coalition-building, alliances, networking, and grassroots organizing.
- Mindanaoan youth will be provided with the necessary information, education, communication, and access to election registration in Mindanao.
- Mindanaoan youth will be exposed to environmental information drives and sustainability efforts in schools and will be actively involved in localized environmental activities, information and education campaigns, mobilization, and advocacy efforts.
- Mindanaoan youth will diligently follow and uphold ecological solid waste management protocols.
- Mindanaoan youth will promote intensive education and information campaigns on the invasive species to prevent unintentional dispersal.
- Mindanaoan youth will collectively work towards fighting against unsustainable environmental practices.
- Mindanaoan youth, including the IPs and ICCs, will be involved in an information drive about the protection of ancestral domains and development aggression posed by transnational corporations.
- Mindanaoan youth will be provided with support such as capacity-building opportunities, training, funding, and proper education to mobilize community-based environmental projects.
- Mindanaoan youth and other environmental advocates will be protected against eco-terrorism.
With the shared vision of Mindanaoan Youth in creating a newer pathway for development via choosing rightful leaders this coming May 2022 National and Local Elections, the “Light of Hope” that everyone has long been waiting for will be shed to all Mindanaoans in all walks of life.
Together, we will be harnessing every Mindanaoan’s ability to decide and participate in making an impact.
Together, we will be strengthening every Mindanaoan’s aspiration in achieving free and fair Philippines elections.
Together, we will be fostering every Mindanaoan’s voice in amplifying and representing fellow youths in attaining the “Light of Hope” this 2022 National and Local Elections.
“If we fully realize our potential as enablers of transformative social change and collectively work together in propelling the nation forward, solving the issues that affect the youth of today and the similar issues that our country faces will be possible.”
*Global Mobility is not yet included in the main outcome statements released in this article due to the health and security restrictions brought by the COVID-19 pandemic making active and physical participation across borders difficult.