By SHERWIN DE VERA
BAGUIO CITY — Youth groups in the Cordillera region condemn President Rodrigo Duterte’s governance strategy “Kill, Kill, Kill!” They described his policies dangerous, exploitative and oppressive during a media briefing last February 19.
Happy Dave Ruz, Regional Coordinator of Kabataan Partylist Cordillera claimed that the administration is killing the people, their livelihood and democracy.
“The ugly and horrific effect of Duterte’s bloody war on drugs, all-out war against the revolutionary movement, and war against terrorists in Mindanao are felt across the country. Neoliberal policies are killing people by bleeding their pockets dry with higher taxes and higher prices, and destroying their livelihood.
All of this whilst, pushing for charter change to extend his term and undermine democratic provisions in the constitution,” explains Ruz. “all of these madness have not spared the youth sector,” he added.
Budget for open fascism
The group decried the meager budget allocation for education.
Paul Soriano, lead convenor of Youth Act Now Against Tyranny Baguio-Benguet, pointed that huge chunk of the 2018 budget is for the armed sector “to sustain Duterte’s bloody wars and de facto Martial law in the country.”
He added that Duterte is veering to an open fascist rule and the president’s militarist approach has victimized thousands of youth in the countryside and in the cities. Soriano also underscored the lack of significant change with the country’s drug problem, despite the more than 13,000 drug-related deaths in the war on drugs.
“State agents in Cordillera target progressive youth leaders, harassing and intimidating them and their family, such is the case of our five student leaders in Baguio,” notes the youth leader.
Anakbayan Metro Baguio pointed that the onslaught of neoliberal policies do not exempt the youth and the education sector.
Benj Tadeja, the group’s spokesperson, said that while the government is pouring funds into the military and police, it is pushing for the further commercialization of the education sector. According to him, 400 higher education institutions are expected to increase their tuition fee by 6-10% this year.
“Duterte’s populist and bogus law on free education actually forces state universities and colleges to implement income-generating projects, and allot funds for capitalist educators. In principle, RA 10931 compliments the K12 program that favors private education institutions,” explains Tadeja.
“At the moment, they are already attacking our freedom of speech and assembly. ChaCha opens the Constitution for amendments that will allow the president’s party and allies to limit, if not take out entirely the bill of rights,” Luz said.
He added that by curtailing the right to free speech, expression and assembly, the government is removing the arena for the youth to develop critical thinking and participation in social issues.
The group condemned Malcañang for threatening students who join protest actions. They believe that the statement does not only pertain to UP students but a warning to all those who are studying in state-funded HEIs not to participate in demonstrations.
Last month, Duterte threatened to remove students from the University of the Philippines who walked-out of their classes to protest his dictatorial actions.
The youth leaders said that the government’s attack and neglect of the youth emboldens them to build a stronger and wider unity among themselves and with other sectors. They believe that the moment is ripe to intensify their struggle against Duterte and for a nationalist, scientific and mass-oriented education system.
“We have seen all this fascists attacks before. We are not blind and deaf of our history. Today, we will not be mute on the people’s struggle. We will not stop fighting until this administration learns its lessons,” declares Soriano. # nordis.net