By RIBO CORSINO AGUB
TUGUEGARAO CITY — More than 200 students, teachers, and government officials from Tuguegarao City launched the Rise for Education and Just Peace Network in a summit held at the Cagayan State University-Andrews Campus Amphitheatre. The activity shed light on the current Philippine education system as well as the human rights situation in the region.
Guest speaker Kenji Muramatsu, convenor of the national youth alliance Youth ACT Now! Against Tyranny, gave updates on the status of the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act or RA 10931. Kenji Muramatsu reveals that “the current draft of the implementing rules and regulations of the Free Tuition Policy contains several loopholes which aims to exclude students from benefitting from the said Act. A No Collection clause must be added to the IRR to safeguard the very principle of free education.”
Muramatsu reiterated that the passage of the law is but a step towards achieving a nationalist, scientific and mass-oriented type of education, saying that “there are still challenges for our education system to be free from colonial influence that serves the interests and needs of the Philippines and not the other countries.”
Muramatsu further called on the delegates to stand against tyranny and dictatorship. He said that Dutertes tirades against the legitimate calls of the people has been actualized by human rights violations against activists and civilians. He cited the murder of youths Kian Loyd delos Santos, Reynaldo de Guzman, Carl Arnaiz, Ephraim Escudero and Lumad student Obello Bay-ao who have been victims by the bloody and violent Oplan Tokhang.
“We unite with the Moros who had their houses, livelihood and culture destroyed in Marawi City by the overkill aerial bombardments of the AFP. We condemn the crackdown against activists, which crested at the shooting of human rights defenders in Negros Oriental, which had killed two and one in critical condition,” Muramatsu said.
Jackie Valencia of Karapatan Cagayan Valley, who was also at the summit said that human rights atrocities in the Cagayan region have increased because of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ red-tagging of locals and progressive organizations.
“The campaign against extra-judicial as well as political killings in the country and the region have been consistent even before Duterte’s presidency. This goes to show that, historically, the government has long neglected its duty to serve and protect its citizens and only candidly serves the interests of its foreign masters, ” Valencia said.
Violy Mendoza, sister of the Mendoza brothers who were brutally murdered by elements of the military belonging to the 86th IB last August 28 was also at the summit. In her testimony, she reiterated that her brothers were simply farmers and not members of the New People’s Army (NPA) as was earlier claimed by the military. She further called for support in seeking justice on the killings of her brothers and to put an end to extra-judicial killings.
Al-jafar Enidal, a Moro student and councillor of the College of Arts and Sciences at the Cagayan State University – Carig Campus also shared how he and his uncle were harassed by suspected agent of the military.
According to Al-jafar, he was confined at the Cagayan Valley Medical Center due to an illness when the said agent called his uncle. The agent was looking for him because Al-jafar did not attend his classes for the past days and thought that Al-jafar was already in the “mountains”. When the agent was informed by Al-jafar’s uncle that his nephew was confined in the hospital for the past days, he instead told the uncle to prevent Al-jafar from engaging with progressive organizations.
The agent even called Al-jafar and his family several times and even offered Al-jafar medical assistance if he agreed to cease his involvement with progressive organizations. “This is not the first time that a student was harassed by elements of the AFP in the province. If they knew a student is active in a progressive youth organization, they will talk to that student to make them leave the organization. They (AFP) will also talk to the student’s parents and usually collaborate with the school administration,” he said.
The incident happened in the first week of September, few days after Al-jafar arrived in Tuguegarao from the Lakbayan ng mga Pambansang Minorya in Manila. As a member of the Kabataan Partylist and a student affected by the mandatory drug testing in CSU, he was active in the campaign against the mandatory drug test which started in August, including speaking in radio stations and in the rally in front of their school.
In the workshop following the inputs, the delegates shared the local problems of the education system in the city such as bullying and lack of facilities, to low salaries of teachers and soaring miscellaneous fees. The fruitful summit made the delegates realize the need to address the problems of our society and agreed that it is timely to establish the Rise for Education and Just Peace Network in the province. They further wrote their commitments to resolve these problems and symbolically placed it on cut-out doves covering the problems written on the doves. The program ended with a unity walk in the campus as expression of their involvement in the network and their solidarity.
Earlier, on November 17, the Rise for Education and Just Peace Network was also successfully launched in the province of Isabela at the Isabela State University, Echague Campus. In its goal to advance the right to quality and accessible education and the political and civil rights of the Filipino masses, the network is also looking forward to establish the network in the provinces of Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino. # Deoxier nordis.net