By SHERWIN DE VERA
BAGUIO CITY — A youth party-list official in Ilocos condemned the military for its “campaign to demonize party-lists” and outright violation of its mandate in the Constitution.
“The military’s role in the elections is to protect the sanctity of the ballot. By demonizing just even one party-list, they are already violating their constitutional mandate,” declared Florence Kang, Kabataan Party-list Vice President for Luzon.
He said their regional chapter received a reports the 81st Infantry Battalion is going around schools in Ilocos Sur saying that membership to party-lists that belonged to the Makabayan bloc will only lead to negative outcomes like low grades and miserable life.
He cited the discussion conducted by the military unit at the North Luzon Polytechnic State College (NLPSC) in Candon City on February 1 where the speaker urged students not to join organizations that includes Makabayan bloc party-lists and progressive organizations.
According to Kang, the military also told students the Makabayan bloc are NPA recruiters and supporters, and they should be wary of forums conducted by such groups since this is where they brainwash and recruit them.
He said the 81st IBPA held a similar forum in Teodoro Hernaez National High School calling Makabayan bloc and other organizations as terrorist groups.
Article XVI, Section 5, Paragraph 3 of the 1987 Constitution states that: “No member of the military shall engage, directly or indirectly, in any partisan political activity, except to vote.”
Likewise, Comelec Resolution No. 10049 issued in February 2016 defined partisan political activity as “any act designed to promote or defeat of a particular candidate/s or party/ies to public office.” Activities included in the prohibition is “making speeches, announcements or commentaries, or holding interviews for or against the election of any candidate or party for public office.”
Kang also expressed concern on the purpose and implication of the 81st IB’s activity and pronouncements.
“This malicious act brings risk to our members,” said Kang, explaining that “its been the practice of military to demonized progressives or connect them with the armed movement to justify the violent attacks against members and leaders.”
He also pointed the military’s desperation to keep progressive party-list from winning in the midterm elections because “they defend and promote the people’s rights and welfare, and expose the lies of the Duterte administration.”
“They keep on wasting nation’s funds on spreading malicious tags, demonizing truth seekers and critics, and bringing havoc to communities by forcing civilians to surrender and harassing our youth and peasant members,” Kang added.
He called on students and school administrators to stand against the military’s practice of spreading fear and uphold schools as zones of peace.
Kabataan Party-list Ilocos already requested Department of Education for a dialogue regarding the matter and plans to do the same with the Commission on Higher Education. DepEd is yet to give its respond. # nordis.net