Youth Encouraged to Fight for the Truth

Youth Participants of the Heroes Hub
Youth Participants of the Heroes HubFNF Philippines

Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom collaborated with DAKILA, a collective of artists advocating for social change, for a learning session on Human Rights, Rule of Law, and Democracy last 06 October 2018 at A-Space Manila. 

The learning session is part of the Heroes Hub Youth Fellowship program of DAKILA with 35 participating youth leaders. The session falls under two courses: Understanding the Society, and Media Training. Renowned political figures, as well as a communication expert were invited as resource persons to mentor the youth on the importance of such concepts and how to communicate these concepts.

Attentive participants listens to Atty. Erin Tanada
Attentive participants listens to Atty. Erin TanadaFNF Philippines

FNF Country Director Wolfgang Heinze found the collaboration with DAKILA highly relevant. He said: “In the Philippines, in Europe and in most countries, freedom of speech, and other freedoms have been used to defend the spread of disinformation. Surplus of information - validated or not - is present and people now have access to all sorts of data. More than ever, we are called to be responsible in exercising these freedoms -- we are called to be critical consumers and sources of information.”

(L-R) Leni Velasco of Dakila, Atty. Erin Tañada, Atty. Florin Hilbay and FNF Program Officer Pauline Sanchez
(L-R) Leni Velasco of Dakila, Atty. Erin Tañada, Atty. Florin Hilbay and FNF Program Officer Pauline Sanchez FNF Philippines

Atty. Erin Tañada, a former student activist and currently the Vice-President External Affairs of the Liberal Party of the Philippines, talked about the role of youth activism and empowerment in combatting the threats to democracy and upholding the rule of law given the current political situation. As someone who hails from a family of activists he said to the youth fellows, ‘Ang pagmamahal sa bayan ay hindi pambata lang (Love of country is not just for the young ones.), it crosses generations. The challenge the youth face today is really how to fight for the truth.”

Atty. Florin Hilbay
Atty. Florin HilbayFNF Philippines

Atty. Florin Hilbay, former Solicitor General, discussed how access to information affects concepts like human rights, freedom, and rule of law. On this he said, “it is so easy to get distracted by information. We live in a time when the rules are still being crafted. A change in power results to a change in information structure and control of the narrative.”

He further explained that “in times when the information structure can shape public sentiments, one way to uphold the law is to have an acceptable range of reasonable legal response.”

Both Hilbay and Tanada indulged the fellows on discourse about the role of the youth in upholding democracy. The speakers imparted that freedom, democracy, and human rights are not just for the constitution to protect. It is a collective effort of the citizenry, the government, and other institutions to uphold.

Hilbay said, “democracy is a long term commitment. We really have to empower communities through person to person engagement otherwise everything will come from the top, the elite, the power holders. We have to empower the ones on the ground otherwise there’s a disconnect.”

Ms. Emily Abrera provides tools and techniques in communicating
Ms. Emily Abrera provides tools and techniques in communicatingFNF Philippines

To be able to become more effective advocates of freedom and democracy, the learning session provided the youth fellows a crash course on tools and techniques in communicating advocacies through a wide-variety of platforms. Ms. Emily Abrera, President of Foundations for Communications Initiative, guided the fellows in crafting more effective. She said to the fellows: “Make use of your clout to influence people.”

Albeit, she also conveyed the importance of being a responsible influencer. “Today is you want to speak the truth you really have to search for it.” she said.

Eve Svenja Callies discuss the challenges of a democratic system
Eve Svenja Callies discuss the challenges of a democratic systemFNF Philippines

FNF intern and law student, Eve-Svenja Callies, provided an international perspective on the challenges to a democratic system, such as populism. She cited how Germany’s experience with the strong right-wing party poses threats to liberal values. In terms of differences in beliefs and in safeguarding freedom of all, Callies said that “freedom always includes the freedom of the dissenters, and a democracy must be able to withstand different or even contrary positions.”

Youth participants discussion
Youth participants discussionFNF Philippines

The session was capped by a game of “Sim Democracy”, a board game that was designed by FNF Thailand. Dr. Pimrapaat Dusadeeisariyakul, Project Manager of FNF Thailand showcased innovative ways to teach liberal concepts like democracy, human rights, rule of law.

FNF Philippines, a German non-profit organization, brings freedom closer to the Filipino people, by translating its complex concept into everyday language. It utilizes innovative educational tools to lobby for social and political advocacies.