A network of social media accounts wants to bring political organizing to the young
One version of a symbol designed by Demokrasya 2022 meant to convey "anger, dismay, disgust," at the current state of governance and politics in the Philippines on social media.
Released/Demokrasya 2022

A network of social media accounts wants to bring political organizing to the young

Bella Perez-Rubio (Philstar.com) - March 31, 2021 - 6:32pm

MANILA, Philippines — A network of groups on social media, boasting thousands of followers each, wants to make it easier for younger Filipinos to campaign for issues and for alternative candidates in the run-up to the 2022 polls.

Demokrasya 2022, or Demand, Mobilize, Kolab for Radical Sustained Action for 2022, is a civil society group launched by Palanca award-winning writer Katrina Stuart Santiago.

"At this point, it's pretty clear that many are running on that side of the fence," Santiago told Philstar.com, referring to the current administration and its allies, composed primarily of storied political dynasties.

"[W]e'd like to be the ones to fashion the alternative candidates that we want."

Santiago is also the founder of PAGASAph, or the People for Accountable Governance and Sustainable Action, another civil society group that currently boasts a following of over 28,300 on Instagram.

In addition to posting political content, Santiago has organized several feeding programs through PAGASAph which she says has delivered over 35,000 meals across Metro Manila and Central Luzon from March 2020 to March 2021. 

Within the same time period, she said PAGASAph also distributed at least 29,922 survival packs, or relief packs tailored to the needs of the organization's community partners, across 253 communities in Luzon. 

The following organizations were listed by Santiago as part of the Demokrasya 2022 initiative:

The accounts listed above, along with PAGASAph, frequently post content related to politics, governance, and social issues, geared towards younger Filipinos.

"Another major thing we really want to be able to address is the propaganda war, how to battle with it at this point in time, when we have been outdone the past four and half years," she said.

"[F]rom voters registrations to voters awareness campaigns, from organizing ourselves to holding events, from campaigning that influencers don't sell their influence to the highest bidder for 2022, to calling on ad agencies to NOT say yes to the advertising projects on the other side, etc.—we want to always have a very clear sense of the role these play in the propaganda war."

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'Platform before personality'

Demokrasya "seeks to organize the greatest number of people and organizations under one coalition that will work strategically to find viable, winnable candidates for all electoral positions—national and local—in 2022," reads a document provided by Santiago to Philstar.com

However, for her, one of the biggest challenges to uniting a winning coalition is what she described as the successful effort of the Duterte administration to depeen the divide between "the Left" and "the Liberals", two groups that are in the political opposition.

"It benefits no one but him and his men that there is no strong united massive opposition, the past four years, and for 2022."

Given this, Santiago says, Demokrasya "pushes for a platform of demands, first and foremost, before it pushes for the personalities whom we will trust will work on these demands with us."

Below is Demokrasya's platform as outlined by Santiago:

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'The election of our lives'

"Demokrasya’s willingness to engage across the political spectrum is premised on the belief that we have long been on the same side on issues," Santiago said.

"Certainly its premise[d] on the belief that we are all on the same side, that this kind of governance cannot continue, and that this is the election of our lives."

She further urged individuals who want to be a part of Demokrasya 2022 to sign up at this encrypted form: https://bit.ly/Demo2022, adding that businesses and organizations looking to join can send an email to demokrasya2022@gmail.com.

"If they’d like to organize small groups of family, friends, acquaintances towards working with Demokrasya’s vision, we can help do that as well," Santiago added.

"If they’d like to hear more about it, we can organize a Talk 2022 for them and their orgs and groups. And if they have existing projects related to winning 2022, we can totally bring that into Demokrasya as well."

Why organize online? 

"Online organizing can be a good and fast way to bring people together to advocate for a certain cause especially when the situation demands immediate action and a lot of consciousness-raising," RJ Naguit, a doctor who is also Akbayan Youth chairperson, told Philstar.com

For Naguit, however, organizing online cannot replace doing so face-to-face, a prospect that has become difficult due to the need to maintain physical distancing and to stay at home amid the pandemic.

This was echoed by Anakbayan spokesperson Jeann Miranda who, while acknowledging its advantages, said that online organizing "can only do so much." 

"We always say that the real fight is in the streets, in communities where the things they see on social media are really happening."  

Collective action, which Miranda defined as organizing in communities and helping people address the most basic of needs, "towards the greatest success of the Filipino people, true democracy and freedom," cannot rest solely on the youth. 

"[I]t should be anchored on the majority of the Filipino people, and they cannot be found online, they are the workers and farmers who work and struggle all day to feed and clothe us." 

Similarly, Naguit said organizers must adopt the mindset of starting "where the people are...before engaging them in more direct action." 

"Online organizing can lead to collective action only if the youth understand the importance of our role in society as bringers of change," Miranda said. 

Unity in 2022?

Naguit said Akbayan is "working towards a loose network that can implement decentralized actions to advance youth issues and put an end to Dutertismo" for 2022. 

"We need to reach scale by reaching out to organizations who are [not] yet to be active politically. We cannot win if a big chunk of the youth sector remain[s] apathetic and unregistered." 

Anakbayan will support the Kabataan Partylist as one of its constituent members in the upcoming elections. 

However, Miranda said the group also plans to form "a broad youth alliance against the fascist, anti-poor and anti-youth" policies of the current administration "with those who cannot wait another year of the Filipino people dying of hunger, poverty and worse, the gun."  

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