Youth groups to stage ‘alternative’ SONA on July 18

by Philip Jamilla

Youth leaders raise cardboard signs condemning the administration’s infamous drug war, inspired by the “cardboard justice” protest popularized by UP Sociology student Adrienne Onday. Photo courtesy of the #YouthRESIST Social Media Team.

Various youth groups and student leaders announced plans of launching #YouthRESIST, a nationwide cultural protest against the government’s “war on drugs”— a week ahead of President Rodrigo Duterte’s second State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 24.

Dubbed as an “alternative youth SONA,” the #YouthRESIST rallies on July 18 will feature various performances as protest on the various human rights violations and extrajudicial killings under Duterte’s first year of presidency.

Breaking apathy

At a press conference in Malate, Manila earlier today, July 11, Shibby de Guzman, a ninth grader from St. Scholastica’s College — Manila, condemned the administration’s infamous drug war.

“We are proclaiming that we are to continue to resist and we are to constantly fight and struggle for this county’s future. We refuse to stop asking, stop questioning our officials. We reject the notion that the loss of lives can just be thrown to the side,” de Guzman said.

The 13-year-old student faced backlash on social media November last year after having been photographed by The Benildean leading her classmates in a protest against the burial of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Nonetheless, de Guzman remained active in numerous protests and movements and she urged the youth to break their silence and apathy by participating in #YouthRESIST.

“Kung hindi tayo ang lalaban, sino ang lalaban?”

Mobilizing the student body

Nonetheless, leaders present during the press conference admitted that mobilizing groups and individuals to join the protests will not be easy.

Grade 12 student Pablo Joaquin Tanglao — who has mobilized contingents for the Marcos Burial protests and last month’s Metro Manila Pride March — hopes senior high school students will also join the upcoming rallies.

“Personally, what we like about SHS currently is sobrang organized ngayon ng mga movements […] to an extent na sabihan mo lang isang grupo, kakalat na siya bigla. Depende lang siya talaga sa ideal ng cause,” he said.

Raymond John Naguit, former UST Central Commission on Elections vice chairperson and one of the conveners for the Youth Gathering for Civil Liberties, also stated there are “issues with regards to recruiting organizations to join the cause.”

Nonetheless, Naguit told TomasinoWeb that he hopes he could convince students and the University administration to support the movement since the protests “also resonate ‘dun sa stand ng University na ‘no to killings… [It is] in line with Thomasian values.”

Akbayan Youth, Millennials Against Dictators and the Student Council Alliance of the Philippines will stage the #YouthRESIST rallies on July 18 along with different student and community-based organizations.

Programs will be held simultaneously at St. Scholastica’s College — Manila, Cebu City and General Santos City.