National Youth Commission (NYC), a government agency in the Philippines that addresses issues of the Filipino youth, encouraged student leaders to vote in the 2016 Philippine elections and fight against climate change in a forum last Aug. 15 at the Silliman Hall.
Jo Jan Paul Peñol, commissioner for Visayas NYC and Jose Sixto “Dingdong” Dantes III, NYC commissioner-at-large talked about voters’ education and climate action, respectively.
Student leaders from different colleges, departments, and organizations in Silliman University, St. Paul Dumaguete, Negros Oriental State University, and Foundation University participated in the forum.
Peñol said that the elections are not just about the candidates but also about the voters.
According to him, the youth must vote because voting is “the most powerful mechanism” created by people to fight apathy. He said that the Filipino youth can use their right to vote to be represented fairly in policy-making bodies.
“At the end of the day, we go back to this principle that this is the Philippines, and we are Filipinos. No one else but us is responsible for the future of this country,” Peñol added.
He added that the youth’s population “could definitely make a difference” in the 2016 elections.
“Every vote counts. One million votes would not be one million votes without a single vote,” said Peñol.
Dantes said that the youth is needed in the fight against climate change.
Dantes proposed 15 things that can be done by the youth every day as climate action. Some of these are planting trees, unplugging gadgets to save energy, lessening plastic and paper use, among others.
He added that it is important to know environmental and energy laws and educate others about them.
“Even small contributions matter. The challenge is to really commit,” said Dantes.
Along with Dantes’ proposal is a climate change campaign called “#NowPH” or “Not on Our Watch.”
It is a campaign that gathers as many signatures as possible in the country. It targets Filipino youth to help prevent global warming from reaching 2°C, the breaking point of climate change.
Climate scientists found out that when global temperature rises to more than 2 °C, there will be worse global warming effects to Earth.
Student leaders were willing to sign the petition during the forum. The signature campaign will be launched nationally in September.
The campaign will also be petitioned directly to the leaders of the 2015 UN Climate Conference sometime in December in Paris, France.
NYC provides opportunities for the youth to be active in nation-building, through programs and projects that develop and harness their potentials, and enable them to serve the country and community. It was founded on June 30, 1995 through Republic Act 8044 or the Youth in Nation-Building Act.
Its vision is to be the policy authority on youth participation and the prime mover in inclusive youth development.
By: Andrea Dawn E. Boycillo