By ARTHUR L. ALLAD-IW
BAGUIO CITY — Youth leaders in this city condemned the dispersal and confiscation of the placards of Kabataang Pinoy Party members who trooped to the House of Representatives Tuesday, to lobby lawmakers to “address the unemployment issue instead of stubbornly pushing for charter change against the people’s will.”
Anjo Cerdena said it was a violation of their freedom of expression. They had gone there to express their opinion on the cha-cha, which was being debated by the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments chaired by La Union Rep. Victor Ortega.
“What they got instead was a rough and shabby treatment by the House security who confiscated their placards and forced them to leave the premise,” said Cerdena, AdHoc Committee member of the Young Defenders in Northern Luzon and Cordillera regional coordinator of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines.
He said that the youth attended the House committee hearings donning graduation caps as a “silent and symbolic protest against how lawmakers are prioritizing (their) political interests over the more pressing need to tackle the unemployment issue.”
Kabataang Pinoy said more than 11 million Filipinos were unemployed, or a total of 27.9 percent of the entire labor force last year where half of this number consisted of youth aged 15 to 24 years.
“This figure is bound to balloon still, with the projected 200,000 threatened to lose their jobs within the first half of the year due to the global economic crisis coupled with the government’s failure to provide employment for this year’s 900,000 new graduates,” Kabataang Pinoy Spokesperson Alvin Peters said.
“The government relies solely on the projected 110,000 jobs available in the business processes outsourcing (BPO) industry, particularly call center and medical transcription jobs, but these are especially vulnerable to the crisis because they are foreign-controlled and their mother companies are situated in recession-ridden First World countries.”
Kabataang Pinoy further said that charter change would only aggravate the rising joblessness and underemployment in the country.
Various moves were filed in Congress to change the constitution.
House Resolution No. 737 sponsored by Speaker Prospero Nograles which seeks to lift restrictions on foreign ownership of lands and corporations in the country was approved before they went to recess in March.
Another resolution by Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Villafuerte which seeks to convene congress into Constituent Assembly will be deliberated claimed Rep. Ortega.
The cha-cha moves clearly does nothing to address the much-needed boost to our local economy for it to be able to provide more decent and adequate jobs and job security for our fresh graduates and the labor force in general,” Peters said.
Cerdena said that the use of force against the youth by the House security comes as no surprise though as we have been witnessing continuous and systematic state-perpetrated violence.
“The dispersal is reflective of the administration’s insistence on cha-cha despite massive opposition,” he said adding: “whatever their will is, it humbles us young defenders of human rights to remind the state forces to respect the Filipino people’s rights as election time comes near.”
Meanwhile, Kabataang Pinoy appealed to Speaker Nograles and lawmakers to stop cha-cha attempts altogether and withdraw the House resolutions on charter change. # nordis.net