Youth leaders say Bato only justifying military presence in schools



MANILA — Progressive youth leaders assailed recent statements of former police chief and now Sen. Ronald Dela Rosa, saying that the missing teen activist case is being used to justify military and police presence in schools and universities.

“They are demonizing and discrediting youth for their activism. But the truth is that they are standing for education, and rights of farmers and workers,” said Alex Danday, Anakbayan spokesperson.

Last week, Dela Rosa led a senate inquiry on “missing” student activists who joined progressive youth organizations. One of the students later posted on her Facebook account that she left on her own will ‘to serve the people.”

Later, government officials have called for review of agreements between the military and state universities prohibiting military presence in schools.

In a press conference yesterday, Aug. 12, progressive youth groups said the police is merely taking advantage of the said issue.

College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) National President Daryl Baybado said the vilification of progressive youth groups aims “to intensify police and military presence in campuses and align it with the Whole-of-Nation approach through a National Task Force.”

Baybado is referring to the anti-insurgency campaign of the Duterte administration.

At the height of Marcos dictatorship, students led protest actions dubbed as Democratic Reform Movement. This led to the Ministry of National Defense-Student Accord banning the presence of state security forces in schools, reopening of student publications and student councils.

Choosing to fight

Kara Taggaoa of League of Filipino Students (LFS) said there are reasons why youth and students become activists, adding that they can discern on their own, especially on standing up for what is right.

If there are so-called changes in the attitude among youth and students, Taggaoa said this is due to their experiences both inside and outside the university.

Taggaoa is reacting to Dela Rosa’s claims that a change in a child’s behavior means they are being brainwashed by progressive groups.

Instead, Hen Namoca of One Big Fight for Human Rights and Democracy also heightened how crucial activism is.

“It is one of the tools in reaching out to the government about the ills of the society,” he said.

Youth lost war vs. drugs

Youth groups also found it ironic that Dela Rosa is suddenly concerned on the welfare of the country’s youth when he was quoted as saying that “shit happens,” following the killing of a toddler in an anti-drug operation a few months back.

Baybado said at least 54 minors have been killed under President Duterte’s war against drugs.

He only sees them as “collateral damage,” Baybado said.

Raoul Manuel, National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) national president, for his part, said students and youth are not brainwashed but rather aspire to contribute in societal change.”

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