Youth power: Kabataan leads progressives in party-list race

MENDIOLA BRIDGE, MANILA, METRO MANILA, PHILIPPINES - 2018/07/06: Kabataan Partylist representative, Congress woman Sarah Elago, speaks during the protest.
Youth groups protest against the alleged human rights violation of the current administration of Duterte. They also denounce and condemn the recent deaths of civilians in Mendiola, Manila. (Photo by J Gerard Seguia/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
MENDIOLA BRIDGE, MANILA, METRO MANILA, PHILIPPINES - 2018/07/06: Kabataan Partylist representative, Congress woman Sarah Elago, speaks during the protest. Youth groups protest against the alleged human rights violation of the current administration of Duterte. They also denounce and condemn the recent deaths of civilians in Mendiola, Manila. (Photo by J Gerard Seguia/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Despite being the target of continuous red-tagging and disinformation attacks, Kabataan (KPL) successfully led the Makabayan bloc in the 2022 national elections for the party-list race.

In projections, the youth sector party-list is expected to secure at least one representative seat in the 19th congress of the Philippines.

Expected to sit as their representative is KPL first nominee Raoul Danniel Manuel, the first Summa Cum Laude of the University of the Philippines (UP) Visayas.

Manuel is known for his critical stances and opposition to the Duterte administration’s policies and made headlines by confronting Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa in a senate inquiry over the issue of mandatory Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC).

An accomplished activist, Manuel also served as the student regent of the UP system and as the national chairperson of the National Union of Students of the Philippines.

In a statement, the self-styled “genuine youth representation in congress” credits their electoral performance to the “overwhelming” support from youth groups. Before the elections, KPL topped student preferences in mock election survey results across different universities across the Philippines.

“Without the backing of traditional politicians or money from big businesses, the youth-led party-list ranks higher in the partial tallies versus many fake party-lists including those created by NTF-ELCAC. Kabataan is the top party-list among those that were not flagged by Kontra Daya network as bogus party-lists,” KPL said in a statement.

Trailing behind KPL in the Makabayan bloc is women’s group Gabriela party-list and education sector’s ACT-Teachers party-list. Gabriela was able to garner 415,366 votes while ACT-Teachers secured 326,087.

Meanwhile, Bayan Muna and Anakpawis are in danger of losing congressional seats due to their lagging electoral performance. In past elections, Makabayan bloc party-lists were able to secure top spots in the party-list race, where in 2019 alone, Bayan Muna was able to secure three seats in congress.

Before and during election day, progressive party-lists were the targets of harassment and red-tagging, both from government institutions and pro-Marcos groups. The Makabayan party-lists were also the target of a circulating fake Commission on Elections (COMELEC) document alleging their disqualification from the national elections.

A COMELEC official said the poll body will make a partial proclamation of the winning party-list groups on Thursday (May 19).

Basti Evangelista is a news and opinion writer who focuses on Philippine national politics and sectoral issues. His personal advocacy includes press freedom and social justice.

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