By DIVINE LORAINE PEÑAFLOR
Words are spoken and promises are given in President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s first State of the Nation Address (SONA). Our dear president gave us hopeful remarks and some realistic views on our society; however, he still failed to address some major demands from the Filipino people.
One of Duterte’s pronouncements that gave him a ten out of ten score is his declaration of a ceasefire. Quoting him, he said “To immediately stop violence on the ground, restore peace in the communities and provide enabling environment conducive to the resumption of the peace talks, I am now announcing a unilateral ceasefire with the CPP/NPA/NDF effective immediately and call on our Filipinos in the National Democratic Front and its forces to respond accordingly.”
For years, peace talks between the National Democratic Font of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Philippines (GPh) that are meant to address the root cause of the armed conflict in the Philippines have always been rejected and/or disrespected by past presidents by not honoring agreements in the said talks. Duterte, on the other hand, opened his administration for the resumption of the peace talks and NDFP Chief Political Consultant Jose Maria Sison is more than happy to accept Duterte’s offer.
Despite the hopeful announcement, Duterte failed to mention his specific plans for some major concerns in our society right now. Some of these are free and accessible education, the act to end contractualization, and land reforms.
Furthermore, he failed to mention anything for the Youth Sector except for the strengthening of the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC), which according to him, would “instill love of country and good leadership”.
The ROTC program is a clear manifestation of campus militarization and a culture of violence and impunity. Numerous cases have already been reported in which cadets and all other low-ranking members experienced harassment from their leaders. The strengthening of such program will bring chaos, physical abuse and more reported violence inflicted on the students by their officers.
What the youth need right now is not a new form of neoliberal attack on education or a new form of student oppression and violence hidden in the name of ROTC but rather a real change on the system that will bring free and accessible education to every corner of our country.
We always hear the phrase “Kabataan ang Pag-asa ng Bayan” but we fail to see the importance our government gives these “pag-asa ng bayan”. Although not mentioned in his SONA, we the youth, are hopeful in the coming administration’s future actions that will benefit us, the youth. # nordis.net