Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan (SDK) joins the workers and the poor today in marching towards the Batasan (Congress) for the 2nd State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Benigno Aquino III.

SDK believes that within President Aquino’s first year in office, nothing has change and elite democracy remains. While he continually boast of his straight path to good governance, this administration continues to walk on the old path of neo-liberal globalization.

Despite the absence of wang-wangs, despite the resignation of Merci Gutierrez and despite the initiative to prosecute GMA for plundering the country, it is undeniable that the number of poor and hungry Filipinos has remained the same if not worsened. And it is because there is not social reform being implemented under the Aquino administration despite the so-called social contract with the people.

The Filipino youth have been longing for a change from a commercialized education system and abandoned as a social service.

Budget cuts in the state colleges and universities continuously increased while President Aquino promised that his government will invest on education. 281 colleges and universities have increased their tuition this year with the approval of the Commission on Higher Education. Of 2.9 million additional jobless Filipinos this year, about 36% are youth (probably fresh graduates).

Therefore,  SDK pushes for the 4 basic demands to immediately address the basic problems of the youth:

  1. Stop Budget Cuts on State Colleges and Universities
  2. Regulate Tuition Increases and ensure genuine student participation on consultations.
  3. Allocate 6% of GNP to education budget.
  4. Ensure secured jobs for all fresh graduates.

President Aquino’s communication advisers said the President’s second State of the Nation Address (SONA) will focus more on ‘social transformation’.  How will these happen if the majority of the Filipino youth will never finish college and will not be able to land a secured job in the future?  Social transformation will only be realized if the President will be able to address the basic problems of the Filipino workers and the poor. This will entail major policy changes like rejecting the neo-liberal policy and replacing it with the policy that prioritizes the poor rather than profit.