Desperate scheme to suppress the youth
The Duterte regime, through its jester, Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, is again desperately attempting to silence the youth by conducting a Senate hearing regarding minor activists who allegedly went missing.
Sen. dela Rosa rode on familial issues between parents and their activist daughters to vilify the progressive and critical stand of the youth and their organizations.
He became a laughing stock when Alicia Lucena of Anakbayan and Lory Caalaman of Kabataan Partylist, activists whom he alleged to be missing, appeared on a press conference and belied his claims. They stated that they are neither missing nor are they minors. They urged the police and military to stop using their parents to vilify their organizations and implement anti-youth policies.
As expected, the regime’s militarist henchmen used the issue as a pretext to justify the ramming through of amendments to the Human Security Act, and the revival of the anti-subversion law.
The Philippine National Police also proposed to revoke an agreement signed by the Department of National Defense which prohibits military presence in campuses. In a relentless attempt to intimidate activists, the Department of Justice is summoning leades of progressive youth organizations by issuing them subpoenas.
This is the regime’s second attempt to silence the youth. On October 2018, it concocted a “Red October” fairytale which maliciously linked the progressive youth movement to the armed movement of the New People’s Army. This targeted to threaten the youth and illegalize their legitimate and critical stance. This violates the youth’s right to free expression and to organize.
The youth as a force for change
Activism and the radical mindset of the youth is a force for change, progress, social justice and democracy. The Duterte regime is afraid of the united ranks of youth who are critical of his regime.
In history, youth activists were the most audicious in the struggle against the Marcos dictatorship and martial law. They were at the forefront of the historic First Quarter Storm (1970), Diliman Commune (1971), student uprisings in the late 1970s until the early 1980s against tuition fee increases, protests for the revival of students rights in camps, and the massive demonstrations in 1983-1986 which led to the ouster of the US-Marcos dictatorship.
University students were also at the forefront of the campaign to dismantle US military bases and revoke the Military Bases Agreement in 1991; and against the membership of the Philippines in the General Agreement on Tariffs (GATT) and Trade in 1994 and policies for all-out privatization and liberalization of the economy under the Ramos regime. They stood in firm solidarity with the toiling masses in opposing the GATT-WTO when world leaders converged in the country on the occasion of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in the Philippines in 1996.
Their participation in broad uprisings that led to the ouster of the Estrada regime is also notable. Similarly, scores of youth also participated and led the protests against pork barrel which culminated to the Million People’s March during the Aquino regime in 2013. The protest movement of the student-youth against education budget cuts are also memorable.
In 2017, the youth was able to push for the enactment of free education in state universities and colleges. They continued to push for academic freedom, including the right to oganize and join organizations, and the right to free press and expression.
They stand in solidarity with workers and farmers in strikes, pickets and communities. They continue to fight for the interest of the Filipino people despite threats and intimidation by the Duterte regime. Some are being threatened and harassed, while other youth leaders were slapped with trumped up charges.
The participation of students and youth in the armed revolution cannot be denied. From the Katipunan to the New People’s army, majority of revolutionary troops of the people are from the youth. Many revolutionary martyrs offered their lives during the prime of their youth. They are exemplars of a life led in selfless service for the people. The revolutionary movement and the people pay their highest tribute to them.