The social media age is both a blessing and a curse, especially for millennials who are fighting for a cause. In this case, speaking out against the violation of human rights and toppling a possible dictatorship. It can only take a few hours for a post to receive thousands of impressions, trolls included. You can even say that this is a convenient medium for protest if you’re unable to join the ones in the streets.
But is it really enough to sit at home and click “Like” or share posts as protest? The students and young professionals of Youth Resist beg to differ.
The newly-formed group consists of members from Millennials Against Dictators (MAD), Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP), Akbayan! Youth (A!Y), and several other youth groups. On July 18, they will hold an “alt-SONA” to protest against the atrocities of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war, among other issues.
“We resist the ‘fake news SONA.’ We believe the figures [of victims will be downplayed in the upcoming SONA,]” said Karla Yu, co-convener of MAD. “We want to come out as the voice of opposition against EJKs. At the end of the day, this is about the government violating human rights. We don’t want us or our kids to grow up in an environment like this.”
These young people stood in front of us and bravely spoke of how ready they were to fight against this administration’s wrongdoing. That they’ve been protesting via social media and rallying in the streets for who knows how long. This also meant that they faced backlash and harassment from supporters and trolls.
Ninth grader Shibby De Guzman knows this all too well. During the Marcos burial, Shibby was one of the students who joined the protests in St. Scholastica’s College in Manila. She was one of the many students who were cyberbullied by Duterte supporters, including Mocha Uson.
This girl. 💖 pic.twitter.com/iofpwfov3Q
— Anj Perez (@iamanjperez) November 19, 2016
When asked about the negative response and possible harassment they’ll receive from this movement, Shibby said it’s better to not mind them. “Don’t let it affect what you’re fighting for. If you know what you want for your country and you know what you’re fighting for, then you wouldn’t think about it as harassment towards you.”
Shibby also urged the youth to leave their computer screens and go out if they are willing and able. “Social media is already a form of activism. But if you want to do something, you shouldn’t be limited to it.” Wise words from a 13-year-old.
There’s are similarities to the kinds of enemies you’ll face when protesting online and on the streets—they are unknown to you and will verbally attack you in any way they can. The fear you’ll feel will also be there regardless of where you are, but as A!Y’s Shamah Bulangis said, “This is the time to be brave.”
“It’s time that the government realizes that people, especially the youth, won’t tolerate this justice system and murderous regime,” she said. “There is a growing discontent among young people. This discontent is greater than our fear.”
Photo courtesy Akbayan! Youth
Watch: A Chilling Look at Duterte’s War on Drugs
Today, We Buried a Thief Among Heroes
Who Broke the Downplayed Dress Code During #SONA2016?
The Importance of Vigilance After Pres. Duterte’s Martial Law Declaration
How Women Can Fight Back Against Online Harassment