The Real State of The Nation, According to #YouthResist Groups
Last Tuesday, several youth groups under a movement called #YouthResist announced at a press conference that they would be staging an alternative state of the nation address on the morning of July 18, at St. Scholastica’s College Manila. This alt-SONA, as they've called it, is a response by these groups to what they expect will be a "Fake News SONA of the President," and to "his killing spree.” It will be followed immediately by a cultural picket on Leon Guinto Street, which will include relevant musical performances and presentations, and will be joined by protest activities in Cebu and General Santos.
The #YouthResist movement is a coalition formed by Millennials Against Dictators, the Student Council Alliance of The Philippines, Akbayan! Youth, and several other campus- and community-based youth groups that stand against the extrajudicial killings associated with the President’s war on drugs. Representatives of the #YouthResist coalition spoke out at the press conference, denouncing the current administration and warning against what will be laid forth in the upcoming SONA.
“Given naman na the President will highlight the best parts, the milestones of this administration’s first year,” said 22-year old Karla Yu, co-convener of Millennials Against Dictators and also one of the complainants against Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre before the Ombudsman, after the Secretary had made serious allegations based on fake news.
She adds: “Pero naniniwala po kami na marami pa pong mga detalye ang hindi sasabihin sa SONA, and marami pang mga issues—katulad na lang ng human rights, katulad na lang ng extrajudicial killings, katulad na lang ng validity ng pagdedeklara ng martial law sa Mindanao—ang hindi pag-uusapan sa SONA ng Presidente. And that’s why I think, ‘yung pagwi-withhold ng information, that’s also a form of a lie. We want the truth to come out. We think that this is going to be a fake news SONA na naman—dahil puro na naman propaganda ang ipapakain sa atin ng Pangulo.”
Also representing the #YouthResist movement is Shibby de Guzman—a 14-year-old Scholastican who was once the topic of controversy when, in the wake of former president Ferdinand Marcos’ burial at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani, she led a student protest at her school and spoke out against the current administration at such a young age. “
“Today, we are announcing that we are continuing to resist and that we [will] constantly fight and struggle for this country’s future.” said Shibby. “We refuse to stop asking for a say [in] our officials’ decisions. We reject the notion that the loss of lives can be simplified as collateral damage.”
The inevitable criticisms against the #YouthResist movement (and indeed, the actual criticisms that Shibby faced for her protest after the Marcos burial) have to do with age and indoctrination: Expect from social media the same baseless arguments and tinfoil hat theories against elitist schools and institutions for falsely politicizing young people and poisoning their permeable minds with the liberal agenda. But it’s good to remember that historically, young people have always been at the front lines of civil demonstration in times of political unrest.
Youth groups and student activists are consistently the noisemakers and fire starters—this is true of the protests against former president Aquino after the Mamasapano clash, of both People Power Revolutions, of the First Quarter Storm, and even of the Philippine Revolution of 1896. Student activism isn’t unique to the social media generation—perhaps only louder and more agile because of the technology at our disposal today. So whether or not you agree with what these kids have to say, it wouldn't be fair to insult their intelligence and debase their capacity to participate in our democracy by chalking it up to some imaginary brainwashing phenomenon. They're on the streets and speaking up out of their own volition, as young people always have.