ILOILO City – Kabataan Party-list in Panay Island slammed National Youth Commission (NYC) head Ronald Cardema over the latter’s statement urging President Rodrigo Duterte to revoke the scholarships of “rebellious” students.
Cardema’s call to the President was meant to violate the rights of the students to criticize the “neo-liberal and anti-poor policies” of the current administration, the youth group said in a statement.
Kabataan believes that the NYC chief’s move was part of a “fascist approach to monopolize public opinion by silencing all the critics of the government.”
“As scholars, we are not indebted to the President or to any politicians. We are not scholars of Duterte. We are scholars of the masses, oppressed and marginalized sectors,” the group added. “The purpose of presenting our dissent against the Duterte regime is an exercise of our democratic rights granted to us by the Constitution.”
The youth group also said Cardema “doesn’t deserve to be recognized as a representative of the youth since he’s only serving the political interests of Duterte and his cronies.”
Last week, Cardema urged the President to issue an executive order that will revoke the scholarships of “anti-government” students, especially those allied with leftist groups.
“Nananawagan po ako kay Pangulong Duterte bilang head of our government to remove the government scholarships of all rebellious, anti-government
scholars,” Cardema said.
He added: “Nilalabanan niyo ang ating mga pulis, ang ating mga sundalo
and nilalabanan niyo at gusto niyong ipabagsak ang ating gobyerno at
kayo ay government scholars.”
Cardema also dismissed the student activists’ claim that the law prohibits denying students’ admission to the state-run University of the Philippines on the basis of political affiliation.
“Walang batas batas or charter charter para sa mga gustong magpabagsak
ng gobyerno,” he said.
Following Cardema’s call, Duterte also made a statement that students from state-run schools stand to lose their scholarships if they showed support for communist rebels.
In an interview last Wednesday night at the Malacañang, Duterte said he considers students who support the New People’s Army his enemies.
“If you espouse to overthrow the government then you are committing the crime of rebellion. It carries with it the penalty of no bail. When the time comes I will arrest all of them and they will lose everything the government has offered them,” the President said.
Duterte however clarified that he has nothing against those who simply join protest rallies against his government’s policies.
“Wala naman kung dissent lang,” he said.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said the state could not just revoke scholarships of students on mere suspicion that they were part of any radical movement.
“We are a government of laws, not of speculations. Kailangan mayroon tayong ebidensya na parte nga sila ng grupo na laban sa gobyerno,” Panelo said./PN