“Our diligent study of history and our present experiences have proven that martial law has done no good to the youth or to the Filipino people in general.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – The recent statement of National Youth Commission chairperson Ronald Gian Cardema has gained wide criticisms, online and offline. Even Cabinet secretaries do not agree with Cardema’s proposal to revoke “government scholarships of all anti-government scholars” specifying those who he alleged as “allied with the leftist CPP-NPA-NDFP” or the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
In response to this statement, Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago expressed concern, “NYC Chair Cardema’s dangerous mindset brings the whole student sector and schools, expressing dissent and position on various issues, under general suspicion and vulnerable to political persecution, threats, and other attacks,” she said in her Facebook account.
Cardema later clarified his statement after it drew flak saying that he only meant “students who take up arms and join the NPA.”
— Bulatlat (@bulatlat) February 23, 2019
But the youth and students remain undeterred. On Feb. 23, as the people commemorated the 33rd year of Edsa People Power 1, the youth came out in force and showed Cardema and President Duterte that they will stand with the people against dictatorship and tyranny.
“For so long, we have been told that we are too young to understand what Martial Law was. That we have no right to speak against martial law or against the Marcos dictatorship. Yet this is not so. Our diligent study of history and our present experiences have proven that Martial Law has done no good to the youth or to the Filipino people in general. The narrative of time has told us that Ferdinand Marcos was a mad man hell-bent on establishing his power at the expense of the Filipino people– and Rodrigo Duterte is no different,” Elago said.
“We do not just celebrate the ouster of the Marcos dictatorship years ago, but we continue to raise the calls against the Duterte dictatorship at present,” Elago said on what it means to mobilize at the historic Edsa shrine.
Education is a right, and so is expressing dissent
For students in state universities and colleges, participating in mobilizations is a right.
Mikaela San Ramon, 20, a Public Health student at University of the Philippines-Manila said such statement of Cardema deprive the youth and students of their fundamental rights.
“Statement like Cardema’s goes against the Constitution that provides that people have the right to express their grievances and out right to education. It’s like taking away the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution,” she said in an interview with Bulatlat.
Jim Bagano, 19, Geology student at UP-Diliman meanwhile said Cardema’s statement, if Duterte will adhere to it, has effects on their education especially in courses that require field work in communities.
“It takes away the holistic and scientific approach of conducting studies. How can we know the concrete solutions to the country’s perennial problems if such programs like going to the communities are being vilified,” Bagano told Bulatlat.
Anj De Vera, 20, Development Studies student at UP-Manila also said that vilification of UP students, such as being radicals, has already affected their community work.
She said people in communities are cautious of UP students. “We explain to them carefully the purpose of our visit and somehow they understand,” De Vera said.
“We hope that the government stops these statements especially if they cannot prove it,” she added.
For these three students, there is no reason to be terrified of statements such as Cardema’s. They reiterated that they owe their education to the Filipino people that is why it is necessary to make a stand for the vast majority who are affected of anti-people policies of the government.