Youth told to ‘infiltrate’ the government to realize plans for social change

by FATIMA B. BADURIA and KATHERINE CHAN

Traveling Salakot founder Paul John Hernandez, disability rights advocate Dr. Maureen Ava Mata, and PH-LEAD Inc. executive director Jann Romeo Nacar receive their certificates of appreciation during “Silakbo ng Dunong at Gamlay: The UST SDG Congress” on March 25, 2023. Photo by Angeline Tanqueco and Katrina Ginete/THE FLAME

THE YOUTH should participate in political and civic undertakings to gradually introduce reforms in the government and implement their plans for social change, advocates of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) said.

Paul John Hernandez, founder of the Traveling Salakot, a project that aims to promote and protect Philippine cultural heritage, said young people have “too much energy and passion” yet nothing has changed in the country.

“[They have] different projects, different movements, but still, nothing is happening at the top (government). That’s why the goal now is to infiltrate the top through political and civic participation,” Hernandez said during the “Silakbo ng Dunong at Gamlay: The UST SDG Congress” held at the UST Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati building auditorium on March 25.

“The goal is to have more young people run this coming elections in the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK), enter decision-making bodies,” he added.

Hernandez said being aware of the country’s problems is an “invitation” to respond to them.

“You became aware of, saw, felt, and experienced the various problems of this country. That is actually an invitation, a call to respond, to lead, and to serve” he said.

GoodGov PH founder Dexter Yang said his advocacy group aims to make the fight against corruption a key issue during the upcoming 2024 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) polls. He said his group, which aims to promote good governance, wants the 10,000 SK candidates to publicly declare that they would fight corruption for better accountability if elected.

However, Hernandez said responding to the call for a better society requires support and guidance from other people, including the government.

John Mark Jacinto, curator of the Online SDG Youth Action Forum, urged the youth to contribute to the attainment of the SDGs, noting that there are seven more years before the UN’s target year.

To ensure the active promotion of the SDGs, Jacinto said advocates should “make it more understandable” and “more simplified.”

Organized by the UST Central Student Council, the event aims to push for the attainment of the SDGs through a series of talks and project pitching centered on SDGs 3 (good health and well-being), 4 (quality education), 10 (reduced inequalities), and 16 (peace, justice, and strong institutions). F

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