Saturday, January 17, 2009

Manila Bulletin Article: The Kind of Leaders Young Filipinos need in 2010

The Kind of Leaders Young Filipinos need in 2010

by: Harvey S. Keh

In less than 18 months, Filipinos will once again go to the polls and
select our next President. According to recent statistics and studies,
majority of the voters in our country will be young Filipinos aged
between 18-40 years old thus, as early as now many national candidates
are studying ways by which they will be able to reach this so-called
Youth Vote which can actually make or break a Presidential candidate.
There are also many organizations and groups that have started
encouraging young Filipinos to go out and register for the upcoming
elections. Among these organizations are Team RP, Youth Vote
Philippines, Movement for Good Governance and Kaya Natin! Registration
is fairly simple, one would just need to fill-up a COMELEC
Registration Form that can be downloaded at the COMELEC website and
s/he would bring this together with a copy of his or her birth
certificate and a valid ID (School ID, SSS ID or Driver's License).
Needless to say, one would also have to be a Filipino citizen and 18
years old or older by the time the May 2010 elections take place. It's
sad to note that when I asked my students who are now in their senior
year in college how many have registered, less than 20% raised their
hands. I asked some of them why they were not inclined to take the
time to register and many of them cited that they can't seem to find
the right candidate that they would like to support. Thus, I'd like to
share my two cents worth about the kind of President that our Young
Filipinos would need in 2010.

Let's start by looking at two of the main concerns of Young Filipinos,
Education and Employment. If we look at current studies done in the
field of education, less than 2 out of 10 Filipinos are able to go to
college and finish. Our Presidential aspirants should be able to come
up with a comprehensive and realistic program that would enable more
young Filipinos to be able to access quality education at all levels.
As we can see in the experience of our Asian neighbors such as Japan,
Singapore and South Korea, investing in education has an effect in
terms of boosting economic development. These countries have invested
at least thrice the amount that we invest in our students thus, it is
no wonder why we have been left behind by them in terms of
development. Finding good job opportunities here in the Philippines is
also a major issue which any Presidential aspirant has to address. The
sad reality is that many young Filipinos have to go abroad and live
away from their families because our government's economic programs
cannot generate enough job opportunities for them. Many people can
argue that there is actually a surplus of employment opportunities
available in the Call Center Industry given that there is a need of
more than 50,000 call center agents in our country but unless our
education system is fixed up not many Filipinos will be able to
qualify for these positions.

Aside from these two major issues, Young Filipinos are also looking
for a President that has a proven track record for delivery of basic
services especially to the poor. Many of our current Presidential
aspirants look good on paper or can speak very eloquently in front of
the camera but have they actually done anything concrete that has
helped improve the quality of life of their constituents? While many
of us have heard them speak about their views on certain issues, we do
not know much about actual programs that they have implemented which
has resulted into actual outcomes in critical social issues such as
improved access to quality basic education and access to basic
healthcare for every Filipino. At the end of the day, our Presidential
aspirants should be able to show that s/he will be able to deliver
programs that will help put food on every table towards ensuring that
every Filipino family will no longer have to live in poverty.

Finally, I believe that aside from the rampant poverty in our country,
another major problem is also the growing cynicism among young people
with regard to our government leaders. Many young Filipinos are
looking for an inspirational leader who continues to live out an
ethical and moral way of life amidst the graft and corruption
practices that are prevalent in our government systems. We have seen
the effect of an inspiring leader such as Barack Obama has had on the
young people in the United States of America wherein record number of
these young Americans went out to register and vote for him. I believe
that if only our young people see that there is a person worth
supporting, I'm sure that we need not take the extra effort to
convince them to vote but they will do so on their own volition.

Is it impossible to find a candidate who is both effective and ethical
in our country? I don't think so. We have already seen in local
government units through the examples of Mayor Jesse Robredo of Naga
City, Gov. Grace Padaca of Isabela, Gov. Teddy Baguilat, Jr of Ifugao,
Gov. Eddie Panlilio of Pampanga and Mayor Sonia Lorenzo of San Isidro,
Nueva Ecija that it can be done. I think it's about time that young
Filipinos take a hold of our country's future by converging and
working together to elect a reform President that will work for
genuine and lasting change in our country. Change starts with each one
of us, Change has to start now.

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