By Rosana Inaudito
ILOILO City – Around a hundred youth and student leaders from different schools and communities in the islands of Panay and Guimaras gathered at the Iloilo Provincial Capitol Conference Room last June 30 for the 2016 Western Visayas Youth and Students Summit with the theme, Western Visayas Youth and Students: Forging Greater Unities for Empowerment and Genuine Social Change.
The reconvening of the alliance seeks to forge greater unities among the youth to: 1) continue upholding the constitutional guarantees of the sector under the prospects of the new presidency; 2) address the worsening threats to the rights to education as stipulated in the Constitution, that answers the need of national development; 3) role of the youth amidst the domestic concerns and globalization; 4) and the worsening crisis facing the entire Filipino youth.
Anakbayan Panay spokesperson Bryan Bosque said, that it is the force of persistent social realities that continue to inspire significant sections of today’s youth to reaffirm our commitment to serve the people.
High school students who attended the event were worried about their future with the implementation of the K-12 Program.
“Now that even college graduates find it hard to land a decent job that pays well, how can the government assure the senior high school graduates that they will definitely get hired after graduation?” a high school student asked.
The students also raised the problems faced by public high schools like congestion because of the lack of classroom and other facilities.
There were schools that implement shifting of classes just to accommodate the students retained by the senior high school program. They called on the new administration to prioritize the education sector and provide enough budget for the building of new classrooms, procurement of textbooks and other learning facilities, and the hiring of additional teachers.
College students raised the issue of the commercialization of education seen in the forms of the yearly increases in tuition and other school fees in private higher institutions, collection of other school fees that were either redundant, excessive or dubious, and the cuts in the budget allocated by the government to state universities and colleges.
The young workers and professionals voiced out their concerns on the threat to their job security with the widespread contractualization and the very low minimum wage.
They called on the Duterte administration to end all anti-worker policies and implement the P16, 000 national minimum wage.
Peasant youth leaders presented the issue they face like landlessness and pushed for the passage of a genuine agrarian reform law that will benefit not only the farmers and their families but the whole nation as well.
Task and Prospects
College Editors Guild of the Philippines national chairperson Marc Lino Abila graced the event and talked on the Youth Agenda and the Task and Prospects of the Youth Under the Duterte Administration.
Abila challenged the youth leaders to not lose hope and continue on fighting for the rights and interests of the youth and students and the Filipino people amidst the numerous problems that confront the society especially the youth sector i.e. K-12, tuition increases, and increasing unemployment among others.
According to Abila the Filipino youth must be ready and willing to help the Duterte administration towards ushering a new era of peace, unity, and development for the youth and the people.
The youth summit drafted a proposal for the incoming Duterte administration that includes the scrapping of the K-12 program, tuition moratorium, allocation of greater budget for education and other basic services, and the free distribution of lands to the landless peasants among others.
The yearly gathering was spearheaded by the Western Visayas Youth and Students Alliance led by Anakbayan-Panay, League of Filipino Students, College Editors Guild of the Philippines, National Union of Students of the Philippines, Student Christian Movement of the Philippines, Sandigan ng Mag-aaral at Sambayanan, and Kabataan Partylist./PT