Progressive groups need to align agenda with youth's practical concerns – Villarin

MANILA, Philippines – Progressive groups need to align their agenda with the practical concerns of the youth if they want to tap the sector, Akbayan Representative Tom Villarin said on Friday, May 31, 

Villarin made the statement in a  Rappler Talk interview, when he asked about the future of progressive groups in the Philippines, in light of the recent midterm elections.

“I think the future of progressive politics in the Philippines rests with the youth, with our young generation,” Villarin said.

The lawmaker noted "surprisingly, this young generation did not participate in this elections" as shown by the low turnout of youth voters.  (READ: Youth and elections: Is there such a thing as a 'youth vote'?)

Villarin attributed this to the youth pragmatism. "They want to talk about the future and how to deal with the future in a pragmatic way like finding jobs that would also address their way of life," he said. 

“At the same time, many of them are fearful of the future,” he added, citing the concern of his daughter about climate change.

So how can the youth be tapped? According to Villarin, the youth would have to be “exposed to the realities on the ground.”

Members of older generations would also have to adjust their rhetoric and platforms to the needs of the younger and more eager generation. Ultimately, Villarin said, members of both generations would have to work together. (READ: What you need to know about Filipino millennials)

“It’s important that the millennial, the Z generation also have a grasp of realities, they also have to understand that the older generation, they have committed lapses and wrongs. We have to do it together,” Villarin said.

"We also have to appreciate why there’s pessimism, pragmatism on their part....We have to understand; appreciate. It’s an arduous task but again it’s the only way," he added.

During the Rappler Talk interview, Villarin was also asked about his assessment of the recent party-list elections where Akbayan, along with several other incumbent party-list groups in the House of Representatives, failed to keep their seats in the 18th Congress.

It was Akbayan's first loss since 1998, when party-list elections were first held, which Villarin said reflected the "dramatically changing party-list terrain." (READ: Villarin: Money, power won vs sectoral advocacies in 2019 party-list race) –

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.