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Millennials’ views on politics cannot be generalized. Within the millennial age bracket, you can find teens whose views are in a state of constant metamorphosis — ever changing with the tides of time and the current issues at hand. There are those who are very vocal about their thoughts, and those who just turn a cold shoulder at things that do not directly bother them. (Admit it, you’re in one of those classifications or somewhere in between!)

Now that we’re less than a month away from the national elections, it would be best if we step out of our apolitical selves and take our part in being citizens of this country.

MB Life took the chance to hold a brief interview with senatorial candidate and Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, who has been an activist himself at a very young age, during his visit at the Manila Bulletin Integrated Newsroom on April 12, 2016.

On simple ways millennials can do to protect/be advocates of human rights, he said:

1. Believe in the principle that we have inherent rights that shouldn’t be violated.

2. Learn the rights, not just the United Nations’ declarations, but also the current human rights laws in the Philippines.

3. Involve yourself in human rights issues.

Fun fact: Colmenares authored the Anti-Enforced Disappearance Law, the Anti-Torture Law, and the Marcos Human Rights Compensation Law.

4. Know the collective rights – rights of many (e.g. indigenous people’s rights, farmers’ rights).

5. Go for the jugular: “Unahin ang nasa taas with the perspective na ang baba, lilinis din yan ‘pag yung nasa taas ay malinis na.

On being apolitical millennials:

6. It will ultimately get to you if human rights violations persist.

Like we’ve mentioned earlier, it’s not good to turn a cold shoulder and say “I will only involve if my rights are trampled upon”. As Colmenares said: “The moment na nagpabaya ka, baka ikaw ay abutin din o yung kamag-anak mo.” Better be prepared!

7. Always remember his notable quote: “What your elders will sow today, you will reap in the future.

8. A huge responsibility rests on our shoulders as the future leaders of the country.

9. The principle of rights is like a rubber band: The extent of rights it covers depends on the amount of assertion to stretch the band. You need to assert your rights so that it will be respected (especially by abusive public officials, according to Colmenares)

10. The experience and wisdom we reap in being involved in political issues can benefit us in the future. Just like Colmenares, who fought for students’ rights to have a student council and student paper during the Martial Law. He’s now a congressman and a human rights lawyer.

11. We have a lot of reasons to be involved but we can choose to be or not to be. The decision lies in our hands.

Colmenares was the first candidate to be endorsed by Galing at Puso party under the tandem of Sen. Grace Poe and Francis “Chiz” Escudero.

Always remember: It’s better to make a stand about something we’re completely hands on with rather than pin point observations about issues we didn’t even bother being involved in… or even just research about.

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