Senator Leila M. de Lima has urged Filipino youth to inspire genuine change by continuing to stand up against injustices and by using their voices to speak truth to power as disregard for human rights continue to run rampant in different parts of the world, including the Philippines.
In her message on International Human Rights Day today, De Lima said the younger generation has the power to fight against oppressive regimes like that of Mr. Duterte’s administration because they were born into an era when you can easily be educated about pressing societal issues.
“Let us celebrate our young people not only because they are our hope for a just and peaceful society, but also because at an early age, they are already making strides in the promotion of democracy, equal rights and participation, freedom of expression, and sustainable development,” she said.
“I call upon you [youth] to open your eyes to the truth. Inform yourselves about the issues that matter. Seize every opportunity to get involved in social causes. You are never too young to speak truth to power. Defend the victims of injustice. Stand up for human rights for your sake, and that of the generations to come,” she added.
Every December 10 of every year, countries around the world commemorate International Human Rights Day, which is the same day that the United Nations General Assembly adopted, in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
UDHR is a milestone document proclaiming the inalienable rights which everyone is inherently entitled to as a human being regardless of race, color, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, and national or social origin, among others.
De Lima, a known human rights defender, however, pointed out that Filipinos should work together in defending youth from abuses and making sure that their voices are heard to ensure that they can actively and consistently participate in social causes.
“Rising authoritarian regimes and increasing vulnerability to climate change are among the signs of the times that confront the youth to speak out in defense of human rights. We should do all that we can to ensure they are heard and included. But how can the youth participate when their childhood is cut short?” she asked.
In the Philippines, the lady Senator from Bicol noted that reports confirmed that 74 children were killed in the government’s so-called war on drugs, while up to 32,000 were left orphaned.
“Pushed further into poverty and carrying the stigma of losing a loved one in the extra-judicial killings, some children drop out of school, their future made more uncertain. How can we expect the Filipino youth to rise above the oppression and violence?” she asked.
With this year marking the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, De Lima called for concerted efforts among Filipinos and the government to “address the gaps in our commitment to uphold every child’s right to grow up with security and happiness.” (30)