Alarming threats among young activists

By Angel De Mesa

In a country full of crimes, corruption and injustices, it is not surprising to have critics that slams the rotten system of the government.Historically speaking, even before the time of colonialization in the Philippines activism has been already present.

This is a way of expressing thoughts and sentiments of people on issues that affect them. It is also one way of resisting unfair and unfavorable predicament which always result to oppression.

Activism never dies until now. Actually, it has been just strengthened by experiences. It has been passed from generation to generation, so no need to be surprised if the youngest sector in the society posses til now.

The youth sector, which has the sense and principle of activism on its deeper context, are the young activists screaming for the rights in education, stop militarization, end killings, and end campus repressions. These are just among calls they have been long fighting for. But the sad fact is, those who fearlessly fighting for the rights of everybody has just been tagged as antagonizers.

News nowadays is quite alarming already. It seems that the democracy we have is slightly taken away and for some reason, we were silenced one by one by those powerful and guilty individuals. Numbers of cases has been already documented pointing out to different incidents of harassing progressive youth organizations and young activists.

Last March 2017, CEGP Bicol specifically the CEGP members from student publications of Ateneo De Naga University and Baao Community College have been continuously harassed by the police and military. CEGP vice president for Luzon, Jan Joseph Goingo has been visited at their house and being monitored of his whereabouts by the police. The publications were told to stop joining CEGP activities because ‘rallying’ was part of their program.

“This is a clear manifestation of harassment and attacks against the campus press. Even our campuses have never been safe for campus journalists. With the government’s disrespect to civil liberties, the campus press always falls prey to the state’s fangs of fascism,” said CEGP national president Jose Mari Callueng.

It is just ironic that the state forces who was supposedly protect the students from dangers and intimidation were the ones repressing the students. While in fact it is stated at the Republic Act No. 7079, or the Campus Journalism Act of 1991 that:

“It is the declared policy of the State to uphold and protect the freedom of the press even at the campus level and to promote the development and growth of campus journalism as a means of strengthening ethical values, encouraging critical and creative thinking, and developing moral character and personal discipline of the Filipino youth. In furtherance of this policy, the State shall undertake various programs and projects aimed at improving the journalistic skills of students concerned and promoting responsible and free journalism.”

Meanwhile another fresh incident of intimidation and red tagging among legal, progressive and democratic organizations was in Cagayan Valley, including the intercollegiate alliance of student in the Asia-Pacific, the College Editors Guild of the Philippines. It was after reports of vandalism along National Highway, Isabela saying “CEGP gamit ng NPA”.

These just show the coward acts behind unjustified allegations. The act of branding and red tagging legal organizations seem to be part of the all-out war raised by the Duterte administration which aims to wipe out the NPAs and the alleged supporters of the red fighters. It only shows that since the state troops cannot defeat their enemy, legal progressive organizations are their fallback.

The progressive, legal, and democratic organizations have already been victims of extrajudicial killings (EJK), illegal arrest, and forced disappearances. And these threats and harrasment are also part of human rights violations. Activist must never be subjected on intimidation and harassment.

“We only desire land for poor farmers, free education, campus press freedom, more decent working conditions of teachers, professional. We are working for just and lasting peace. We shall stand firm on our commitment to be advocates of truth. We shall embody fair and accurate journalism as to which translates into commitment for the poor, the landless, and the environment. Let us struggle for the genuine national freedom and democracy”, said CEGP Cagayan Valley. (BaretangBikolnon.com)

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