Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has urged today’s Filipino youth to look at the exemplary courage and dogged determination of young people around the world in calling for concrete actions to tackle pressing problems the world is confronted with.
De Lima, a known human rights defender here and abroad, made the exhortation as the world is captivated by the youthful activism of Joshua Wong of Hong Kong and Greta Thunberg of Sweden who continue to move and inspire people to genuine change.
She also urged the government and people from the positions of power to listen to the voices of young people and take necessary actions to heed their incessant call.
“At their tender age – Joshua, 22 and Greta, 16 – the two chose to distinguish themselves for an unselfish cause. And despite the terror brought to our society by some abusive officials, they remind us that we can do something to inspire change,” she said.
“It is about time for governments from different parts of the world to listen to the young people, especially to Wong and Thunberg, and to stop playing blind and deaf to their pleas. It is time to listen to young people,” she added.
Wong has persistently fought for an end to police brutality and a broadening of democratic rights in Hong Kong which includes the push for universal suffrage, stressing in a recent interview that pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong must continue.
He recently raised awareness in the US, Germany, Taiwan and Australia this month about the pro-democracy protests that have continued for the past three months despite escalating rhetoric from Beijing. He was one of several activists arrested in late August.
Thunber, for her part, led the filing of complaint with the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child, calling out major countries including Germany, France, Brazil, Argentina and Turkey for not taking adequate action to stop the unfolding climate crisis.
Last Sept. 23 during the United Nations Climate Summit, she delivered a strong message where she warned foreign governments to against what she called a “mass extinction” due to their failure to address decisively the worsening climate change crisis.
The lady Senator from Bicol said she is optimistic that more and more idealistic and energetic young people will continue to stand up for human rights and speak out against any forms of injustices, especially in countries like Philippines.
“The youth can surely learn from Joshua and Greta, especially here in the Philippines where human rights abuses under the current administration continue to run rampant. We can make a difference, and our youth are leading the way,” she said.
“Even from detention, I vow to do my best to support all youth activists in resisting injustices and improving the plight of our countrymen,” added De Lima, who chairs the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development.
Considered as the staunchest critic of the Duterte administration’s murderous war on drugs, De Lima has been detained for more than two years now, based on trumped-up charges from the perjured testimonies of mostly convicted felons.