1SAMBAYAN launches Ateneo, La Salle chapters – but analyst says more needs to be done to get youth vote

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 26) – Two leading universities with a storied rivalry are the first picks of a key opposition group for its youth arm. The opposition seeks to ignite school spirit among the youth for 1SAMBAYAN’s big political fight next year.

The group held a virtual launch Wednesday afternoon of its first two student chapters: 1SAMBAYAN Lasalyano and Ateneans for 1SAMBAYAN. Both chapters aim to galvanize its student populace to support the opposition’s bid in next year’s elections.

While still mum about her plans in 2022, Vice President Leni Robredo expressed support for both chapters, saying that these show how Filipinos can unite for better governance despite fundamental differences.

“I am with you in the call for unity. But aside from this, I will reiterate: we should not be the only ones talking here. The challenge is to give our fellow Filipinos a space in our hearts. Be open-minded, listen, understand. Expand the scope of how we can help,” she said in Filipino through a video message.

Prominent anti-administration figures from both Ateneo and La Salle also delivered messages of support for the new chapters, saying Filipinos can unite for better governance amid differences.

Atenean Senator Risa Hontiveros called on the youth to rally around the opposition, emphasizing that young Filipinos should decide the outcome of the 2022 elections.

“I am certain many of you here, whether Atenean or La Sallian, are witness to each other’s burgeoning political spirit, each other’s Animo. We can only really do this successfully and with less doubt through a strong and solid united front,” Hontiveros said.

On the side of the Green Archers, veteran human rights lawyer Atty. Chel Diokno echoed Hontiveros’ call to the youth, saying, “This is going to be a choice of the kind of leader we want for our country. Do we want a leader who lords it over us, or a leader who serves the people?”

Inclusivity is key for opposition to win in 2022 polls - analyst

Political analyst Prof. Dennis Coronacion welcomed 1SAMBAYAN’s student chapters launch, saying that the move shows some concrete plans in the coalition’s electoral moves. These include tapping the youth vote, and moves to organize its base.

He also said the move helps repair the coalition’s damaged reputation after several invitations extended by 1SAMBAYAN to prominent politicians to run under its ticket were declined.

In June, 1SAMBAYAN named several nominees for its selection process such as Vice President Robredo, Diokno, and legislators such as Senators Grace Poe and Joel Villanueva, and House Deputy Speaker Vilma Santos-Recto.

Poe – who ran for president in 2016 - said that she still had no plans to mount another presidential run. Villanueva said he was not interested. Recto also turned the nomination down, citing COVID-19 response and legislative duties as her main focus.

“This is a good recovery on the part of 1SAMBAYAN and at the same time, their decision to reach out to the youth through those universities is also a good move,” Coronacion told CNN Philippines in a phone interview.

However, he said that the group should have waited for other universities in the country to set up their own chapters instead of just launching it with the Taft and Katipunan-based institutions.

“They have to invite the other universities and colleges too. Maganda kasi yun na (It is good to reflect) overwhelming yung support, but they have to tap the support of the youth, especially the educated ones. Sila yung (They are the) enlightened, and most of them are against the programs and policies of President Duterte,” Coronacion said.

He adds, building a coalition of 1SAMBAYAN chapters from different schools nationwide would have helped shed the party’s “elitist” image.

Ang (The) number one criticism or point against 1SAMBAYAN is that they are made up of the country’s elites, yun bang hindi kayang maka-konekta sa masa (they seem unable to connect to the masses),” Coronacion said.

He added that linking with other universities would help their cause. State universities and colleges, as well as technical and vocational schools, should have also been tapped, he said.

He also noted three key challenges for 1SAMBAYAN and the opposition in general. These are how to encourage the youth in poor communities to register, how can the young can be inspired to vote, and how to convince them to choose opposition candidates.

Coronacion believes that 1SAMBAYAN should also focus on reaching out to out-of-school youth. He believes that out-of-school youth outnumber those who have degrees or are currently enrolled.

“They have to come up with a strategy to convince these huge sections of the youth population that they should not vote for Duterte and his allies. Mahirap ilatag yung (It is hard to lay down the) agenda ng opposition, and ang hirap din kasi wala naman silang (and the difficulty is that they lack a) unified agenda to begin with,” Coronacion said.

For its part, 1SAMBAYAN youth convenor Rae Reposar said that the group is planning to launch more chapters, saying that the organization’s chapter at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines is already being set up.

“We’re not just expanding in schools. We’re expanding in different areas across the Philippines,” he said during the launch.

Reposar also said, Ateneans and La Sallians should be aware of their educational privileges. He notes that the high costs of education are pushing those in lower socioeconomic classes to apply for scholarships just to be part of the student body.

Pag sinasabing La Salle, Ateneo, elitista. But first, kailangan po nating i-acknowledge kasi yung privilege natin na makapag-aral sa mga institusyong ito,” he said, adding, “because you’re growing and you’re benefitting from this inequality, may social responsibility ka to also deliver and make it easier for other people.”

[Translation: People think of La Salle and Ateneo regarded as elitist. We need to acknowledge the privilege of being able to study in these institutions. Because you are growing and benefitting from this inequality, you have the social responsibility to make it easier for other people.]

Coronacion said a candidate “who appeals to the uneducated youth and informal settlers” may turn the tide for the opposition.

He noted that it may be good for them to include a candidate who has a “rags to riches story” or someone who was able to rise from poverty.

“Another thing that they have to sell is that 1SAMBAYAN is not just for the middle class and upper class, that 1SAMBAYAN is also after the welfare of the members of the lower class,” Coronacion stated.