STATEMENT BY H.E. ISABEL CARO WILSON, AMBASSADOR TO THE KINGDOM OF SPAIN OF THE PHILIPPINES

11/08/1998

MR. PRESIDENT,
EXCELLENCIES,
DISTINGUISHED DELEGATES,
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

ON BEHALF OF THE GOVERNMENT AND PEOPLE OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, I WISH TO CONGRATULATE THE GOVERNMENT OF PORTUGAL FOR HOSTING THIS WORLD CONGRESS. THIS IS NOT ONLY TIMELY AND RELEVANT, BUT IT PROVIDES A GOOD FORUM FOR ADOPTING A GLOBAL DECLARATION OF PRINCIPLES ON THE YOUTH AS BOTH CATALYST AND BENEFICIARY OF CHANGE .

TODAY'S YOUNG PEOPLE WILL BE TOMORROW’S LEADERS OF A WORLD WHICH IS IN CONSTANT FLUX. THEY ARE AT THE THRESHOLD OF THE 21ST CENTURY AND THEIR FUTURE WILL DEPEND ON HOW THEY HANDLE NEW CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES.

TECHNOLOGICAL BREAKTHROUGHS HAVE ENABLED THE YOUTH TO GAIN ACCESS TO UNLIMITED INFORMATION. STATE-OF-THE ART COMMUNICATIONS BRINGING INFORMATION TO THE MOST FAR-FLUNG AREAS HAVE MADE IT POSSIBLE FOR THE YOUNG TO BE OUTSPOKEN AND MORE AWARE OF THEIR RIGHTS UNDER INTERNATIONAL LAW.

WHILE MODERN SOCIETY HAS MANY ADVANTAGES, THERE ARE CERTAIN GRIM REALITIES WHICH MUST BE FACED. TODAY'S FAST-PACED, FREEWHEELING LIFESTYLES HAVE SPAWNED THE GROWING MENACE OF SUBSTANCE ABUSE, AIDS, AND UNWANTED PREGNANCIES EVEN AMONG THE VERY YOUNG. THE SPECTER OF POVERTY, AS WELL AS UNEMPLOYMENT AND ILLITERACY, LOOMS OVER THE YOUTH, ESPECIALLY IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES. WHEN WE CONSIDER THAN IN 1995 , THE TOTAL WORLD YOUTH POPULATION WAS ESTIMATED AT 1.03 BILLION, POSITIVE ACTION TO ADDRESS THE NEEDS OF OUR YOUTH IS URGENT YESTERDAY, TODAY, AND TOMORROW.

PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT'S INITIATIVES FOR YOUTH DEVELOPMENT: POLICIES, LAWS, AND PROGRAMS

THE PHILIPPINES HAS ALWAYS PLACED PARAMOUNT IMPORTANCE ON THE SIGNIFICANT ROLE OF THE YOUTH IN NATION BUILDING. IN 1870, OUR NATIONAL HERO JOSE RIZAL, IN HIS MESSAGE "TO THE FILIPINO YOUTH", CALLED THE YOUTH "THE HOPE OF THE FATHERLAND" AND EXHORTED THEM TO BREAK FREE FROM THE SHACKLES THAT BOUND THEIR HEARTS AND MINDS SO THAT THEY MAY SOAR TO THE HEAVENS AND ATTAIN THEIR ASPIRATIONS. GREGORIA DE JESUS, HERSELF A GREAT WOMAN AND THE WIFE OF ANOTHER PHILIPPINE HERO, ANDRES BONIFACIO, ALSO RECOGNIZED THE ROLE OF THE YOUTH IN SOCIETY AND THROUGH HER DECALOGUE TO THE FILIPINO YOUTH, REMINDED THE YOUTH OF THE 1800s OF THE FILIPINO VALUES THAT PROPELLED THE NATION TO INDEPENDENCE AND PRESERVED ITS TIME-HONORED TRADITIONS AS A DISTINCT RACE.

A HUNDRED YEARS LATER, FILIPINOS CONTINUE TO PUT GREAT FAITH AND CONFIDENCE IN ITS YOUTH. THE 1987 CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES CLEARLY STATES THE COUNTRY'S YOUTH POLICY IN ARTICLE II, SECTION 13: "THE STATE RECOGNIZES THE VITAL ROLE OF THE YOUTH IN NATION-BUILDING AND SHALL PROMOTE AND PROTECT THEIR PHYSICAL, MORAL, SPIRITUAL, INTELLECTUAL AND SOCIAL WELL-BEING. IT SHALL INCULCATE IN THE YOUTH PATRIOTISM AND NATIONALISM AND ENCOURAGE THEIR INVOLVEMENT IN PUBLIC AND CIVIC AFFAIRS."

IN 1995, REPUBLIC ACT (RA) 8044 OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE YOUTH IN NATION-BUILDING ACT WAS APPROVED. IT LEGALLY DEFINED "YOUTH" AS "THOSE WHO ARE 15-30 YEARS OLD.

THE NATIONAL YOUTH COMMISSION (NYC) WAS CREATED THROUGH RA 8044 TO SERVE AS A POLICYMAKING AND COORDINATING BODY OF ALL YOUTH PROGRAMS AND PROJECTS OF THE GOVERNMENT. BEYOND MERE COORDINATION, THE COMMISSION IS ALSO INVOLVED IN THE POLITICAL, SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT OF YOUTH. THE NYC HAS ENSURED COMMITMENT AND YOUTH PARTICIPATION IN LOCAL AND INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCES ON GLOBAL YOUTH CONCERNS. THUS, FILIPINO YOUTH ADVOCACY GROUPS WORK TIRELESSLY TO CREATE A BETTER AND GENTLE WORLD.

THE NYC HAS ALSO FORMULATED A MEDIUM-TERM YOUTH DEVELOPMENT PLAN (MTYDP) FROM 1999 TO 2004, WHICH WAS APPROVED IN MARCH THIS YEAR. IT CONTAINS THE COUNTRY'S VISION FOR "A GENERATION OF MORE ENLIGHTENED AND EMPOWERED FILIPINO YOUTH WHO ARE VALUE-DRIVEN, ACTIVE AS WELL AS INNOVATIVE, WITH A STRENGTHENED BELIEF IN A SUPREME BEING AND IMBUED WITH PATRIOTISM YET OPEN TO GLOBAL COMPETITION AND COOPERATION." THE PLAN ALSO IDENTIFIES THE GENERAL CONCERNS THAT CHARACTERIZE THE FILIPINO YOUTH'S ENVIRONMENT AND MAPS OUT STRATEGIES TO ADDRESS THESE CONCERNS.

VARIOUS INITIATIVES INVOLVE THE YOUTH IN ACTIVITIES OF GOVERNMENT AND BUSINESS TO MOULD THEM INTO MATURE AND WELL-ROUNDED INDIVIDUALS. THE CREATION OF A YOUTH COUNCIL CALLED THE SANGGUNIANG KABATAAN (SK) FOR YOUNG PEOPLE FROM 15 TO 21 YEARS PROVIDES THEM WITH OPPORTUNITIES TO PARTICIPATE MORE ACTIVELY IN AFFAIRS INVOLVING ALL LEVELS OF GOVERNANCE, FROM THE GRASSROOTS TO THE NATIONAL LEVEL. THE NATIONAL YOUTH PARLIAMENT WHICH IS HELD EVERY TWO YEARS PROVIDES YOUNG FILIPINOS WITH A FORUM WHERE THEY CAN VOICE THEIR NEEDS AND PROBLEMS IN THE FORM OF RESOLUTIONS WHICH ARE THEN PRESENTED TO CONGRESS. THE YOUTH ENTREPRENEURSHIP PROGRAM EXPOSES YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN TO EXPERIENCES WHICH WILL HELP HONE THEIR SKILLS IN BUSINESS.

YOUNG PEOPLE ARE ELECTED TO CONGRESS AND ARE ABLE TO LEGISLATE LAWS ON YOUTH-RELATED ISSUES.

OTHER ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF THE PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT FOR THE YOUTH ON A SECTORAL BASIS ARE AS FOLLOWS:

• EDUCATION - THE MAGNA CARTA FOR STUDENTS;

• EMPLOYMENT - THE KABATAAN 2000 OR YOUTH 2000 PROGRAM SPEARHEADED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT PROVIDES THE YOUTH WITH ON-THE-JOB TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES IN THE PRIVATE AND PUBLIC SECTORS AND RESCUES AND PROTECTS CHILDREN AND YOUTH WORKING IN DEHUMANIZING CONDITIONS;

• HEALTH - THE ADOLESCENT HEALTH AND YOUTH DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM OF THE POPULATION COMMISSION WHICH HELPS PREPARE THE YOUTH FOR RESPONSIBLE PARENTHOOD;

• ENVIRONMENT - THE LAUNCHING OF THE GREEN BRIGADE AND EARTH DAY INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS;

• DRUG ABUSE - VARIOUS PROGRAMS FOR PREVENTING DRUG ABUSE SUCH AS THE ISKOLAR PROGRAM OF THE NATIONAL YOUTH COMMISSION WHICH UTILIZES MEDIA AS A TOOL FOR DISSEMINATION;

• RECREATION - THE SPORTS-FOR-ALL PROGRAM ORGANIZES PROVINCIAL, REGIONAL AND NATIONAL SPORTS COMPETITIONS FOR THE YOUTH; AND

• WOMEN - THE CREATION OF A WOMEN'S CENTER OFFERING SPECIALIZED TECHNOLOGIES AND SKILLS; AND THE FORMULATION OF THE PHILIPPINE PLAN FOR GENDER DEVELOPMENT.

PHILIPPINE YOUTH SITUATIONER: KEY ISSUES AND CONCERNS

BASED ON THE 1995 CENSUS, THE TOTAL FILIPINO YOUTH POPULATION (THOSE WITHIN THE 15-30 AGE BRACKET) WAS APPROXIMATELY 20.7 MILLION. THIS MEANS THAT THE YOUTH NOW COMPRISE ALMOST 1/3 OF THE TOTAL PHILIPPINE POPULATION.

WHILE THE PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT AND RELEVANT NGOs HAVE ALREADY DONE MUCH TOWARDS UPLIFTING THE CONDITION OF THE YOUTH SECTOR AND ENSURING ITS DEVELOPMENT, THERE STILL REMAIN VARIOUS ISSUES AND CONCERNS WHICH NEED TO BE ADDRESSED, SUCH AS:

¨ ECONOMIC ISSUES

DOMESTIC EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES ARE NOT ADEQUATE, LEADING MANY YOUNG FILIPINOS TO SEEK JOBS ABROAD. ONE HAS ALSO TO CONSIDER THE SIGNIFICANT SOCIAL DISLOCATION CAUSED BY THE HIGH RATE OF MIGRATING OVERSEAS FILIPINO WORKERS, THE MAJORITY OF WHOM ARE WOMEN , WHOSE CHILDREN ARE LEFT BEHIND. THE FORCED SEPARATION RESULTING IN BROKEN HOMES NEEDS TO BE ADEQUATELY COVERED BY MECHANISMS ON SOCIAL AMELIORATION.

¨ SOCIAL ISSUES

WHILE MANY YOUNG FILIPINOS ENJOY THE BENEFIT OF EDUCATION AND LITERACY, THE QUALITY OF EDUCATION CONTINUES TO FALL BELOW STANDARD. THERE IS A NEED FOR MORE YOUNG PEOPLE TO SPECIALIZE IN THE FIELDS OF SOCIAL SERVICES, ENGINEERING, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY. 40% OF THE TOTAL YOUTH POPULATION IN THE COUNTRY ARE EITHER UNEMPLOYED OR OUT OF SCHOOL. THIS TRANSLATES TO SOME 8.44 MILLION UNPRODUCTIVE FILIPINO YOUTH.

VULNERABILITY TO UNDESIREABLE ACTIVITIES IS CAUSED BY A LACK OF MATERIAL AND FINANCIAL MEANS TO DO OTHERWISE. THE SUPPORT AND GUIDANCE OF THE FAMILY IS CRUCIAL FROM CHILDHOOD TO ADULTHOOD. STUDIES INDICATE THAT YOUNG PEOPLE TEND TO LOOK AT THEIR PARENTS AS ROLE MODELS, WITH THEIR MOTHERS PLAYING A MORE CRITICAL ROLE. IN THIS REGARD, GOVERNMENTS NEED TO STRENGTHEN SUPPORT FOR THE FAMILY. MEDIA SHOULD BE TAPPED TO PORTRAY THE FAMILY'S POSITIVE CONTRIBUTION, IN ADDITION, STRONG EMPHASIS MUST BE GIVEN ON SOUND SOCIAL VALUES NOT ONLY IN THE HOME BUT ALSO IN THE SCHOOLS.

TO ENSURE THE FULL POTENTIAL AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE FILIPINO YOUTH, WE HAVE ACCOMPLISHED THE FOLLOWING:

1. FORMULATED A NATIONAL YOUTH POLICY WHICH IS CROSS SECTORAL IN NATURE;

2. DESIGNATED A NATIONAL YOUTH COORDINATING MECHANISM; AND

3. IMPLEMENTED A NATIONAL YOUTH PROGRAMME OF ACTION .

PHILIPPINE POSITION

THE PHILIPPINES HAS BEEN AN ACTIVE PARTICIPANT IN VARIOUS INTERNATIONAL MEETINGS AND DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING YOUTH-RELATED MATTERS, RECENTLY, THE PHILIPPINES HAD THE HONOR OF CHAIRING THE 2ND ASIA-PACIFIC INTERGOVERNMENTAL MEETING ON HUMAN RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT FOR YOUTH CONVENED BY ESCAP IN BANGKOK IN JUNE THIS YEAR. THE MEETING WAS CAPPED BY THE ADOPTION OF THE ASIA-PACIFIC POSITION FOR THIS WORLD CONFERENCE ON YOUTH, WHICH THE PHILIPPINES BELIEVES TO BE A MOST USEFUL INPUT FOR THE FINAL DRAFT LISBON DECLARATION ON YOUTH. IN THE YEARS TO COME, THE PHILIPPINES FORESEES TAKING ON AN EVEN MORE ACTIVE ROLE IN PROMOTING THE WELFARE AND CONCERNS OF ITS YOUNG PEOPLE. PRESIDENT ESTRADA'S ADMINISTRATION HAS IN FACT EMPHASIZED YOUTH RIGHTS, PROTECTION, AND DEVELOPMENT AT THE HEART OF HIS TEN-POINT PROGRAM OF GOVERNMENT.

CONCLUSION

WE WOULD LIKE TO STRESS THE IMPORTANT ROLE OF THE SECRETARY GENERAL IN MONITORING AND EFFECTIVE FOLLOW-UP TO ENSURE THE CORRECT IMPLEMENTATION OF THE WORLD PROGRAMME OF ACTION. THIS COULD BE ACHIEVED BY STRENGTHENING THE YOUTH UNIT OF THE UNITED NATIONS SECRETARIAT AND PROVIDING IT WITH ADEQUATE HUMAN AND FINANCIAL RESOURCES. WE CALL ON THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY TO CONSIDER THE REPORT OF THIS CONFERENCE IN ITS REGULAR SESSION THIS YEAR AND TO GIVE THIS PRIORITY ATTENTION AND IMMEDIATE ACTION. OUR YOUNG PEOPLE ARE FACING A COMPLEX, HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT AND URGENTLY NEED OUR FULL SUPPORT, COMMITMENT AND LEADERSHIP.

WE MUST ACCEPT OUR RESPONSIBILITIES NOT ONLY AS PARENTS AND ROLE MODELS BUT ALSO AS A MATURE AND RESPONSIBLE GENERATION CONCERNED WITH THE DEVELOPMENT AND WELL-BEING OF OUR YOUNG. WE CANNOT ALLOW FUTURE GENERATIONS TO FACE THE FUTURE WITHOUT A SOLID FOUNDATION BASED ON SOUND VALUES, LOVE AND PEACE. LAWS TO ENSURE EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR ALL OUR CHILDREN MUST BE IN PLACE AND IMPLEMENTED WITH URGENCY SO THAT THE YOUTH OF TODAY CAN FACE UP TO THE CHALLENGES OF THE NEXT MILLENNIUM.

THE PHILIPPINE DELEGATION WOULD LIKE TO EXTEND ITS APPRECIATION TO THE ORGANIZING COMMITTEE FOR THIS CONGRESS. WE REAFFIRM OUR COOPERATION IN ENSURING THE SUCCESS OF THIS HISTORIC WORLD GATHERING.

THANK YOU.

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