What are our youth really thinking?
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2007-05-03
Raymond "Mong" Palatino is a former NUS (National Union of Students) president who has earned a United Nations award. He is now the president of the Party List group Kabataan and is the number 1 nominee of that group should they win in May.

Many ask just where the Filipino youth are these days. Are they not interested in what’s happening to our country? The youth will reap the mess that our politicians are creating so again we ask: Why are they not involved?

Thus, I am giving my space today to Mong Palatino. Mong answers a lot of our questions about the youth. Why should the youth vote/By: Raymond "Mong" Palatino
I’ve been trying to write this article for many weeks but I could only think of reasons why the youth should not vote. I could always imagine young voters questioning the worthiness of participating in the elections. Why vote if ‘Garcis’ of this world will count the ballots? Why encourage my family and friends to be active in politics if election campaigning is doomed to be violent? Why support a candidate if he/she will turn out to be a monster in the future anyway?

These are valid questions. These are legitimate apprehensions. These may be reasons why many young people refuse to be involved in the elections. I also have these misgivings about the coming elections.

Ditching a dirty political exercise is justifiable. It is also an easy decision to make. But I need not surrender to cynicism everyday.

If elections are filthy, let’s make it less filthy. If elections are dominated by the elite, let’s make the elite listen to our problems. If elections are a popularity contest, let’s demand a concrete platform from all candidates.

I am already curious about the election agenda of candidates. I want to know their platform for education health and environment. What is their program for the youth? What is their social reform agenda? How would they convince our skilled professionals to remain in the country?

If we abandon the elections and allow the trapos to dominate the campaign, elections will be more meaningless and futile exercise. But our vigilance and active engagement would probably make a difference in the reforms we want to achieve by electing competent leaders and removing imbeciles in government.

Voting is just one of the many ways to be involved in the elections. We can actually volunteer for political parties and candidates espousing programs we think the country needs. We can report electoral violations (use those camera phones). We can campaign for honest and peaceful elections through texting, chat, blog and joining advocacy groups during the counting of votes.

We can cancel out all our activities on May 14 in order to brave the long queues and vote in our local precincts. If we don’t vote, somebody else will vote in our behalf. Remember, ghost voters are hard to catch in a superstitious country like ours. Voting is also a rare chance to get even with bad politicians.

Young voters could potentially dictate who will seat in the Senate and the next batch of local leaders. This is possible if the youth will vote on May or if they are not registered, influence family and friends to vote for candidates they want to win.

Analysts doubt the potency of the youth vote. According to them, the youth will not be a significant force in deciding the outcome of the coming polls. This is our chance to prove the skeptics wrong. The youth vote is REAL. We only need candidates who can inspire the youth with their creative and sensible election agenda.

We need another Cory Aquino who united a grieving nation in the mid 1980s. We need a new Miriam Defensor Santiago who amazed the youth with her wit and bravado during the early 1990s. The country is looking for another politician in the mold of Raul Roco who will articulate the concerns of young people.

It is not enough to be a young politician to win over the youth. It is not enough to be an Opposition candidate to call oneself as an idealistic leader. Sons and daughters of brilliant politicians must still prove they deserve the support of the youth.

I go back to the earlier question. Why vote on May 14? It’s our duty as responsible citizens. It’s our duty to strengthen democracy. To use the language of ‘Star Wars’: We are the only hope. The Force is not with us. We are the Force.

Elections are an opportunity to change the faces that make up the Philippine political system. If we fail to dislodge the corrupt and the tyrants in government, then it is a lesson that voting should be complemented by other political actions that advance the cause of democracy. That means elections are not enough.

If all else fails, revolution remains an option. Revolution?

  Previous Columns:

It had to happen on The Ides of March and Holy Week

Suggested guidelines for liability- free Internet posts

Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

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