We, the youth of Northern Mindanao, support the reopening of the peace talks between the government of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front today.
We aspire for a just and lasting peace, which cannot be achieved through an all-out war. From the standpoint of the youth, we have seen the different problems that our countrymen are confronting.
Among us are the youth struggling to finish their education, their families pinning their hopes on them. We are the youth who depend on the subsidy and support of the government for public education, unable to afford the elite private universities that could only be accessed by the financially privileged. We are the youth who juggle jobs just to pay for their tuition, walk kilometers and skip lunch to save their fare for their school needs.
Among us are the youth from the basic sectors of society – the youth from the farming communities, the youth already laboring in plantations and factories. We are the youth who fight for humane working conditions, wage commensurate of their work, for access to resources that would allow them to live as dignified human beings.
Among us are the unemployed youth, looking for any means of income, always apprehensive of an uncertain future. We are the youth who, with high hopes, had looked forward to the day we would join the country’s workforce – only to be disheartened by the lack of options. We are the youth who are filing for applications abroad – a teacher looking to work as a domestic helper, a nurse going out to be a private caregiver. We are the youth who are looking to provide for their families, to build on their dreams, but are forced to leave home.
We understand the demands of our fellow Filipinos. We understand the unrest and discontent growing against a system that has pushed several of our countrymen to different actions seen by the government as disruptive – those who have chosen to march the streets in protest, those who have lobbied in different platforms for a change in the system, those who have taken up arms to heed the call for a revolution. We understand the need to address their concerns to achieve peace that is based on justice.
Today, we send out our hope that the two parties will remain faithful to their commitment to resolve the conflict. We also call out to the youth to join us in heeding the challenge of becoming the hope of our country. This is our Philippines that we are working on. This is our just and lasting peace.
Vennel Francis D. Chenfoo
Secretary General, Panalipdan Mindanao Youth
Mobile number: 0927-235-9204
(In behalf of the partner youth organizations of the ‘Pax Ganern!’ project)
‘Pax Ganern!’ project is a peace initiative of RMP-NMR’s Rural Youth Apostolate. It gathers interfaith organizations in various parts of Northern Mindanao to contribute to the success of the peace process through media literacy, mobile peace forums and youth camps, and many other activities. It includes organizations like Panalipdan Mindanao Youth, League of Filipino Students, Carmen United Youth Guild, Youth of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, Karatula, Alliance of Muslim Youth and Students, and artists group Arkadia, among others.