Senator Francis Pangilinan cautioned up to 200 youth delegates that “the threat of authoritarian tendencies is upon us.” Speaking at the yoEUth debate on 23 May 2017, Pangilinan called on the youth to defend our freedoms, constitutional democracy, and the rule of rule.
“We cannot be the sole voice of liberal advocacy. We must tap the youth for lively discourse, intellectual debate, displayed with boundless energy and inexhaustible creativity,” said Pangilinan. In the age of trolling in social media, and fake news, which ultimately finds itself in mainstreams, we need debates such this to elevate the discussion, and foster understanding, discernment, compassion, and more importantly, action,” he added.
Hosted by the European Union Delegation to the Philippines, the yoEUth debate gathered nine schools all over the Philippines to debate on issues on human rights in business and economic freedom.
“We have a large degree of strong solidarity with countries around us, and even with those further away. We have the biggest development cooperation program in the world. The EU contributes about 50% of overall development systems to countries that are in need,” said EU Delegation Head Ambassador Franz Jessen.
Jessen stressed that development assistance is extended to governments based on mutual agreements to make sure that countries progress in the best possible way. “It’s not something we do on our own initiative, but in close cooperation with the recipient governments,” he explained.
Pangilinan also stated that the country should extend its hand beyond national borders, such as to the EU “in tackling humanity’s woes, and seeking solutions.”
The EU Delegation, FNF Philippines, and DLSU Manila co-organized the debate to make issues like death penalty and the war on drugs in relation to businesses and free market more accessible to students.
That the death penalty will curb the usage of drugs, and ultimately improve human capital; but that its reinstatement translates to backtracking to international commitments were among the arguments raised. The case for the war on the drugs was that it was what the people wanted given that Duterte was elected based on that campaign promise; against it was that poverty is the root cause of drugs abuse, hence solutions to address poverty like free trade must be prioritized.
Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Commissioner Gwen Gana praised the debaters. “ You raised good points. The government should listen to you!” She also commented that “the government’s war on drugs could be done in a more humane way.”
Gana sat as an adjudicator along with Dutch Ambassador Marion Derckx, German-Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GPCCI) President Tristan Arwen Loveres, European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) President Guenter Taus, German Embassy First Secretary for Cultural Affairs Thorsten Gottfried, and EU Trade Section Head Walter van Hattum.
“Millennials have always been regarded as oblivious to current political and social events, and this yoEUth debate proved otherwise. We only need to provide the youth with the platform to engage such as this activity, and they will always emerge to be inspiring leaders,” shared FNF Country Director Wolfgang Heinze. “The future of the Philippines remains bright,” he added.