Student activism amid undeclared martial Law

By Angel De Mesa

Forty-five years ago a massive exploitation struck the humanity in our country. People were being killed, abducted, tortured and silenced for fighting their rights. It was considered as a mortal sin to those people who oppose the ruling of Marcos administration. The power of the voice was not heard nor recognized by the dictatorship way back then. Only violence ruled the people.

Those who was not yet born that time may not know nor believe the reality that happened before, but don’t worry because history will let you be reminded.

Let me take you back from the time of the darkest stage of our history.

What happened 45 years ago was unimaginable. It was not just a simple declaration of martial law, but also a suspension of peoples’ rights and democracy. And the most affected and targeted by this implementation was the youth sector.

At the time of Marcos’ Martial Law, there were massive closures of student councils and campus publications in state universities and colleges, intensification of commercialization in education through massive increases of tuition fees, and other extreme restrictions on the rights of students and youths, aside from the youths who have sacrificed their lives to restore democracy such as Lean Alejandro, Lilios Hilao, Lorena Barros, Edgar Jopson, Eman Lacaba.

These were just few of the government tactics during martial law to end student activism. Many student leaders sacrificed their lives just to uphold democratic rights and wishes.

These are not far from the repressions happening today under Duterte administration. Student repression seems to be a contagious illness implemented by the succeeding regimes.

Just this month, massive attacks were documented against the students and the progressive youth organizations around the country.

One of these incident is at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines. The PUP administration who was believed to be a ‘Marcosian’ and ‘tyrannical’ has just implemented sudden changes rooting to anti-student policies that causes the student outcry.

The administration ordered to remove and replace the student regent by an admin-appointed representative, student offices and student lounge were also being closed, along with this is the take over of the student publication and the mandate of ROTC on senior high same as the mandatory drug testing. Also, police officers were deployed inside the campus to monitor each and every move of the students.

On the other hand, the anti-student policies the school admin has just imposed are just way too contrast in the student handbook they themselves said to “uphold”.

This was same as the incident of harassment and repressions in different campus publication in the province of Camarines Sur. CEGP Bicol said that affiliated members of CEGP in Camarines Sur was highly monitored by the members of police and military due to its active participation in the mass movement raging against the current administration.

According to Section 7 of the Campus Press Freedom Act, the law is supposedly gives freedom and space for student journalists to write without fear of any threat of suspension or expulsion, the qualification made by the Supreme Court on the said provision by providing exemptions has rendered the security on tenure provision practically useless. One notable exemption is “material disruption of class work or involving substantial disorder or invasion of the rights of others,” which is too broad that even a simple factual article may fall within its application.

We are never far from the incident during the martial law, the only difference is that the Duterte regime maintains it undeclared to submerge the people clamor.

Despite these challenges and difficulties, it is positively cited that never in the history of the Philippines student activism was defeated nor weakened by the fascist attacks of the government.

We millennials may be fresh from ignorance, but soon as we were exposed with the reality around our environment, we will be critical thinkers – that will lead us to be more progressive and nationalistic youth that will justify the genuine hope of the nation.

Nevertheless, as what activists say, “walang mali sa paglaban, may mali kaya lumalaban” (there is nothing wrong in fighting, there is something wrong that’s why we are fighting). (

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