Human rights lawyer emphasizes the role of youth in social reform

by Cherizza Mae Bautista & Nicole Faye Agcaoili

Atty. Neri Colmenares explaining the important role of the youth in society. Screengrab from UST-Simbahayan’s Facebook page.

A human rights lawyer urged the youth on Thursday, Sept. 23 to take part in any social reform movement.

Lawyer Neri Colmenares, a victim of martial law, emphasized that the youth are analytical and articulate, allowing them to recognize and be aware of problems in the society.

“Kailangan ng lipunan ngayon ang articulate people. Na-analyze mo na ang problema, nakakita ka na ng solusyon: kailangan ang message of truth, justice, freedom, democracy. Dapat i-spread mo yan sa mga taong bayan because that is your role eh,” he said.

He also pointed out that the youth must continue to take part in social reform movements, such as participating in commentaries on social media, to counter the narrative and the trolling.

However, according to him, the youth must still be active by having a dialogue with the poor and communities, especially those close to UST, as they are the most vulnerable to manipulation.

“We need to convince the poor to see the fact that President Duterte is not a messiah. He is actually none other than another trapo who makes promises to gain votes and refuses to fulfill them after he sits in office,” he said.

Colmenares emphasized that this is the challenge for the youth, for the UST students; and by doing their roles, changes in Philippine society will take place.

Colmenares, who announced his senatorial bid for the 2022 elections, also emphasized the importance of participating in the upcoming elections. According to him, it is the lives of the Filipino people that will be at stake in the nation’s decision.

He said that there are struggles faced in exercising the right to vote and educating uneducated communities. But with its potential advantages to the masses, he considered those worth it.

“[I]t’s required, parang it’s necessary eh kasi after all, it is your future that is at stake here,” Colmenares said.

He also said that it is the choice of each Filipino to choose whoever and whatever leader they want for the position. However, in choosing the right leader, he added that people should consider the state of the country and their countrymen.

“Ang tanong lang naman diyan ganito: do you want another six years of this kind of COVID response?” he said, referring to the government’s pandemic response.

He also commended the power of the Filipino people during the 1986 People Power Revolution and urged the young generation to emulate and regain the potency that Filipinos used to have during the time of the dictatorship.

“With unity, hope, determination, and courage, we can win over tyranny and repression,” Colmenares said.

“Nagtagumpay tayo kay President Marcos noon, magtatagumpay din tayo kay President Duterte ngayon,” he added.

The webinar titled, “Francisco De Victoria Linggo ng Karapatang Pantao,” is part of the two-day webinar organized by UST-Simbahayan Community Development Program in commemoration of the declaration of Martial Law.

The Official Digital Media Organization of the University of Santo Tomas