Discussing the current economic, political, and social situation of the country, the University Community Engagement and Advocacy Council (UCEAC), along with the Samahan ng mga Mag-aaral ng Pamantasang Ateneo de Davao (SAMAHAN), conducted Pakighinabi: “Makiramdam, Matuto, Makisali.”
The conversation centered on various issues the country has faced, primarily focusing on the current administration. Among these issues were the different societal and financial controversies that arose in the government.
Furthermore, the discussants emphasized how the people should be critical in the way politicians respond to these situations, elaborating on how it serves as a guide in selecting future leaders.
Xavier University (XU) Economics Department Chairperson Jhon Louie Sabal presented the country’s economic growth throughout the years and suggested immediate responses to long-term solutions in line with the ongoing health crisis.
Additionally, Sabal mentioned that there is no concrete timeline yet for the country’s economic state to revert to its previous condition before the pandemic.
“It will all depend on the effectiveness of government initiatives to reduce the spread of the virus and protect our economy,” he said.
Meanwhile, Atty. Ernesto Neri of the XU Center for Legal Assistance brought up the many contentious issues in the administration, specifically the war on drugs, civil society conflicts, human rights violations, and the constant exercise of extraordinary powers.
“All these things were legal. All [of] these were approved by [the] authority, the legislature, [and] affirmed by the court. But in total, what it does [is] it fundamentally subverts the democratic institutions, and it destabilizes the guardrails of power,” Neri said.
On the other hand, Professor Hadji Balajadia of the AdDU Psychology Department cited that most government efforts to address hunger and malnutrition are underfunded, which solely reflects the government’s priorities during the pandemic.
According to Balajadia, although the local government units are trying to reprioritize the national hunger problem, their responses are still inadequate, which carries the issue over to the succeeding president.
She also mentioned the vulnerabilities in the state of education, noting that the crisis has existed for a long time and was only magnified by the pandemic.
“Online learning has apparently exposed our educational institutions, particularly the public school institutions, to the problems such as lack of load, lack of gadgets, [and] difficulty in understanding lessons,” Balajadia said.
SAMAHAN President Karlo Torreon expressed that the kind of leader needed in 2022 is a role model and a Mindanaoan who truly knows their people.
“I am a student leader, a SAMAHAN president. When I look up [to] my Philippine president in the future, what I want is to see pride on him or her, that I would literally want to be like him or her” Torreon said.
XU Central Student Government External Affairs Secretary Kyle Chester Cotacte highlighted that a leader should believe in multisectoral leadership, recognize and fight for human rights, and focus on creating better institutions than pursuing personal or political ambitions.
“We need a leader who could inspire us, and inspire even other leaders, especially in [the] government, to make sure that creating a good government must come to reality,” he said.
Moreover, JT De Jesus, El Consejo Atenista President of Ateneo de Zamboanga University (AdZU), asserted that it is a leader’s responsibility to eradicate vaccine hesitancy, prioritize human rights, and support education, most especially during a health crisis.
“The leader that we will choose will not only have an implication to our lives for the next six years, but to our future generations as well,” De Jesus said.
The said Pakighinabi was participated by selected reactors and guests from Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU), Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan (XU), and Ateneo de Zamboanga University (AdZU), last August 18 via Zoom.