Fight culture of impunity with empathy, VP urges youth

September 01, 2017

BAGUIO CITY-Saying today's generation of Filipinos should make a stand against a culture of impunity that has slowly become acceptable to some people, Vice President Leni Robredo on Thursday urged the youth to "fight anger with empathy, hate with compassion, and hopelessness with action."

"Our people need you now more than ever," Robredo told graduating students of the University of the Cordilleras here.

Just and humane society

"Blaze trails and create beautiful disruptions to inspire a just and humane society," she said, referring to her generation's standing up for the right on the days leading to the 1986 People Power Revolution that toppled dictator Ferdinand Marcos from power.

"I saw that period as our generation's call to action. We did not have Facebook Live or Twitter back then. But we never felt disconnected, especially from the social issues that plagued our nation," she added.

This generation's call to action may be close at hand, she said, because of rapid global changes marked by racism and gender discrimination that challenge "our notions of human rights and equality," and the rise of populism, which attacks all democratic processes.

"Here in the Philippines, hatred and violence have been steadily creeping into our national narrative. In extraordinary times such as this, we ask ourselves, 'What have we become as a nation?'" she said.

Much like Filipinos, "people from nations all over the world seem to be drowning in frustration and anger," she said, because democratic institutions and the political elite have failed to improve the lives of the poor.

Because of this, populism, trade and economic protectionism and extreme nationalism have gained widespread support, she said.

"I don't look down on that anger. More attention could have been given to the last, the least and the lost," Robredo said. "[But] are we ready to throw our freedoms and our rights for change that go against old-fashioned values of empathy and collaboration?" she added.

Culture of empathy

Robredo said: "The only way to stop the emerging culture of impunity and violence is to conquer it with the culture of empathy" by listening to people instead of imposing on them solutions to which they never took part.

According to the Vice President, her personal views were shaped by "the political climate of those tumultuous years."

She learned, she said, that "our rights and our freedom are worth dying for. that the youth has a powerful voice. and when it matters most, our people come together and-at the cost of personal safety and with much sacrifice-fight for the things that are good for our families."

Published in the Inquirer.net issued September 1, 2017 | Article by Vincent Cabreza - Reporter / @Inquirer_Baguio

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