In a recently concluded e-forum session in collaboration with the Ateneo School of Government (ASOG), Project Participate and Mediators Network for Sustainable Peace (MedNet) met with Former National Youth Commissioner Chair, Leon Flores III and Vice Mayor of the Municipality of Tulunan, North Cotabato, Hon. Maureene Villamor to discuss youth political participation.
MedNet President, Madett Gardiola, briefly expressed the organization's goal in organizing the e-learning forum: to contribute to resolving critical issues by facilitating conversations where common ground can be built and collaborative action can be taken. She spoke about current issues that the youth will ultimately bear the burden of resolving in the future and how it is essential for them to be politically participative.
Kiefer Sy recounted a preceding activity MedNet held on the same topic. The previous forum highlighted the increasing incidence of political dynasties, which ultimately lead to deeper poverty. Data from the Commission on Elections also suggests that they expect about 7 to 10 million new registrants before the election year, therefore pushing MedNet to hold activities to engage the youth.
Towards Inclusive Democracy
Leon Flores III discussed youth and voting. He puts forth the notion that an informed voter is more likely to make the right decisions. According to him, certain political and economic elites dictate Philippine elections through vote-buying. He describes this reality as "a great unequalizer" in our democracy.
He also talked about how many of the youth voted based on personality in the recent 2013 elections. He discussed the importance of educating the youth to vote based on platforms. He also advised not to impose views on young people and instead supply them with information to decide on their own.
Furthermore, Leon Flores III reiterated the importance of sharing information within the appropriate channels where the youth are most active. Consequently, he warned on how Twitter can be a vast echo chamber and advised that the "woke" youth should practice deliberative democracy through discourse.
He also tackled how youth are potential game-changers, as shown from historical and current events. Patricia Non's initiative for the novel Maginhawa community pantry and the establishment of the iconic KKK by the katipuneros were testaments to the power of young people to incite change.
He also pointed out the potential power of the youth vote, especially in winning narrow margins of vote turnouts. He then called on the young people to voice out, volunteer, and vote.
Experience of being a Youth Official
Hon. Maureene Villamor shared her problems as a youth official, particularly on how she had to detach her affiliations with the current mayor of their municipality due to their conflicting interests. She talked about how it is crucial for public servants to never lose sight of their sworn duty and how important it is for the youth not to get easily swayed by the "dirty game" of politics.
She gave her insights on political survival and how insecurity pushes public officials to put more emphasis on their longevity rather than doing what is best for their constituents. According to her, there should be a greater need for governmental transparency and reforms. She also shed some light on the harsh reality of public rigor, stating that more than reforms, the public also requires assistance for their day-to-day problems.
Leon Flores III, in response to Hon. Maureene Villamor's story, states that it is imperative to surround yourself with like-minded people in politics.
When asked how he encourages and provides conviction to aspiring leaders, Leon Flores III answered that they should be appropriately equipped with the right resources, tools, and mindset. He placed a greater emphasis on mindset as he believed it is where the yearning usually starts.
The event ended with ASOG echoing the importance of empowering the Filipino people to make informed decisions, especially nowadays where divisiveness and disinformation are rampant.
Watch the full video of e-Learning Forum on this link:
About the writer: Paolo L. Dimalanta is a second year Communications student from the Ateneo de Davao University who is currently taking his internship in MedNet.
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