Heed the call of the youth for urgent action on disaster: Pangilinan

THE administration should not belittle the voice of the youth and listen to their views about the problems besetting the Filipino people in the wake of the calamities, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said Monday.

“Ang kabataan ang boses ng kinabukasan. Ang kabataan ang mitsa ng pagbabago. The students and the youth are the voices from the ground. They speak not only from their own experiences but also from the actual situations of their family and friends as well as the people they see on social media and other news sources,” Pangilinan said.

“Instead of shutting them out and threatening them, we should be open to their grievances and solutions. If I may suggest, the youth may also support the call of some lawmakers, including myself, to realign the anti-insurgency fund to addressing the simultaneous and successive disasters we’ve been experiencing,” he added.

Earlier, several students from Ateneo de Manila University announced their plan to go on academic strike starting Wednesday, November 18, amid what they said was government’s neglect of the Filipinos during the past three typhoons that claimed lives and destroyed properties and livelihood. Students from De La Salle University, University of the Philippines-Manila, and Polytechnic University of the Philippines have made similar calls.

In their statement, the Ateneo students said: “We believe that things cannot continue business as usual. We can no longer stomach the ever-rising number of deaths due to the state’s blatant incompetence. We cannot prioritize our schoolwork when our countrymen are suffering unnecessarily at the hands of those in power.”

Pangilinan said it is wrong to slam outright the doors on the students who were only showing empathy and compassion for the sufferings of fellow Filipinos ravaged by the typhoons.

The senator recalled that it was the collective effort of Thai students and youth who have pushed for democracy and constitutional reforms as they questioned the relevance of the monarchy. He said the rallies of the students in Hong Kong against human rights violations and threat to the economic welfare of the territory also resounded worldwide.

“The incompetent and graft-ridden COVID response as well as the less-than-sterling handling of calamity after calamity are very evident. In contrast, the Administration needlessly showed zeal when it shut down ABS-CBN, hastily passed the Anti-Terror Law, and pushed for the re-imposition of the death penalty,” Pangilinan said.

The senator said the youth are simply echoing the nagging questions of those who have been devastated by government’s lack of leadership in addressing the multiple crises.

“Ang tanong lang din ng kabataan: Nasaan naman ang priorities ng Administrasyon gayong kinakaharap natin ang pinakamalalang krisis pangkalusugan at pangkabuhayan sa buhay nila? The government could have also done better in mitigating the impact of these natural disasters if only we are more vigilant in protecting our environment and judiciously using funds where they should go,” Pangilinan said.

“Makinig sa kabataan. Makinig sa hinaing ng bayan. Umaksyon agad para matugunan ang pangangailangan pagkatapos ng kalamidad. When the youth points out this negligence, then the government should listen,” he added.