Press Release
July 18, 2017

Speech of Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros before the National Day of Youth Resistance (#YouthRESIST Alt-SONA), July 18, 2017 at the St. Cecilia's Hall, St. Scholastica's College Manila.

Good morning everyone! Thank you so much for having me here with you. I just want to say that it always, always fills my heart with hope and courage to be around the young, particularly my fellow Kulasas! Mabuhay ang kababaihan! Ora et Laban!

We stand here because we want to send a clear and strong message to this government. If the message of the President's state of the nation address (SONA) is supposed to be that the government is fine, that the country is getting better, that change has finally arrived; then I will say this again - nothing could be further from the truth.

That 8,000-12,000 people have been killed by the government's bloody war on drugs, that this senseless campaign continues despite all the evidence, that murderers are rewarded with reinstatement to their government posts and even promotions; all the senseless death and tragedy is proof that our government does not listen. It does not listen to the poor. It kills the young and the poor. It does not respect the truth and democracy, it clouds them with fake news and disinformation. This is something we will not stand for.

We stand here today to tell this government that the millennials are watching. That you are not blind. The youth will not be fooled by fake news and information on social media. After all, social media is the domain of the millennials. No group of old men in Malacanang know this place better than you.

We will take back the democracy they are stealing from us. And we know this darkness will pass because you, the young have the light.

Your generation has been judged by so many others and been called so many things. Tinawag kayong henerasyong makasarili, vain, spoiled, self-centered at sobrang entitled. Hinusgahan kayo na walang tapang at walang pakialam. Maling-mali sila.

I have seen firsthand your courage and patriotism. I saw your courage and selflessness when you led the charge against the granting of a hero's burial to the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Thousands of you, the millennials, took to the streets and said in your own voice that Marcos was not a hero. I am particularly proud of my fellow Kulasas, ang mga kagaya ni Shibby De Guzman, who poured to the streets to join the protest actions. This despite the online harrassment and abuse you took for speaking truth to power. For that, my young friends and fellow women, you will always have my respect and admiration.

I am reminded of my own youth. I was 15. And I wore the blue and white of this very school when I and my fellow students led a series of protests against the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant. That moment began a life of larger social involvement. And I am proud that you many of you have made the same choice here today.

My young friends, the fight for democracy and against authoritarian rule is a fight that we can win. But if we are to win, we must come together.

And in this, you, the youth of this nation, should show us the way. Defend the truth in cyberspace, and indeed in all spaces: in your schools, in your places of work, and if need be, in times and places such as this. Teach us again to learn from history's lessons. Teach us to develop a mind that questions what is in front of us. Lead the way in tearing down the walls of authoritarian rule.

Kaya ngayong araw na ito, isang malaking karangalan na kasama ko kayo ngayon. Isang karangalan na lumaban at manindigan kasama kayong lahat.

To borrow a popular phrase from another world, yes, winter is here. The night gathers. But so is our resistance. THE RESISTANCE IS HERE. WE ARE THE RESISTANCE.

We will fight. WE WILL FIGHT AND WE WILL WIN because in the words of your generation, you only live once, we only live once.

Mabuhay ang kabataan at kababaihan!

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