More Protests Despite Gov’t Harassment

Youth groups launch alliance vs Arroyo

The youth was one of the formidable forces in the second Edsa uprising which catapulted Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to power; it may as well be the same force that will boot Arroyo out of Malacañang.

By Carl Marc Ramota

Various youth and student groups are now gearing up for more massive protests against the Arroyo administration, saying the youth will once again be at the forefront of the fight against fraud and corruption.

Barely a day after Arroyo’s public apology, various anti-Arroyo youth formations, student councils, publications and organizations launched Youth Dare or Youth Demanding Arroyo’s Removal.

The youth was one of the formidable forces in the second Edsa people’s uprising which catapulted Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to power; it may as well be the same force that will boot Arroyo out of Malacañang, the youth groups said.

Apology not accepted

Speaking at a press conference in Palma Hall in the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman last June 28, Eleanor de Guzman, Anakbayan (nation’s youth) secretary-general and Youth Dare spokesperson, warned Arroyo, “If she thinks she can get off the hook that easily then she is gravely mistaken. The youth will not simply forgive and forget.”

Youth Dare is a broad alliance of youths and students from different schools, communities and universities. Among its convenors and members are Anakbayan, League of Filipino Students, UP SIGAO (UP Student Initiative for Gloria Arroyo’s Ouster), PUP Yanig (Youth Alliance for the Immediate Ouster of Gloria), the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP), College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), Kabataang Artista para sa Tunay na Kalayaan (youth artists for genuine freedom or KARATULA), Student Christian Movement of the Philippines (SCMP), Anak ng Bayan Youth Party, Youth for Patriotic Leadership (YPL), Youth GO (Youth for Gloria’s Ouster), ARM of the Youth (Arroyo Resign Movement of the Youth), Gloria Step Down Movement (GSM) – Youth, SSALAG (Sampaloc at Sta. Cruz Laban kay Gloria) and other Sangguniang Kabataan (youth councils) and youth groups nationwide.

Most of these organizations also formed the Estrada Resign Youth Movement (ERYM) which figured prominently during the second Edsa people power uprising that ousted then President Estrada in January 2001.

De Guzman added that last week’s series of protests was the “beginning of the end” for the Arroyo presidency. “Now that the truth is out, our fight for transparency has become our fight to safeguard the future of the youth and the nation,” she said.

NUSP deputy vice president for Luzon Terry Ridon meanwhile said Arroyo’s woes will never be over.

“With her admission of guilt, she herself has willingly placed the last nail on her floundering regime’s coffin – this mea culpa is too late for the people to stomach, especially us students,” Ridon, a student from the University of the Philippines said.

Ridon said Arroyo’s admission of guilt moves students not into sympathy for her but a strengthened and renewed resolve to broaden the student alliance against the Arroyo government.

Youth betrayal

Raymond Palatino, Anak ng Bayan Youth Party vice president and former convenor of the Erap Resign Youth Movement (ERYM), said Arroyo is a bad example for the youth. “A jueteng-lover and charlatan has no moral ascendancy to govern and she sets a bad example to young Filipinos.”
“She has already betrayed us twice. Even before stealing the people’s votes, she has already failed the youth when she turned a blind eye on the Youth Agenda given to her upon assumption of office,” Palatino said.

UP Sigao covenor Alfonso Tomas “Atom” Araullo said Arroyo’s “janus-faced apology is merely tip of the iceberg.”

He said the Arroyo government has failed miserably in addressing youth’s major issues, primarily the dismal state of education in the country. He recounted that it was during the Arroyo administration that UP and other state universities and colleges suffered major budget cuts exacerbated by increased prioritization in military spending and debt servicing.

UP Student Regent Ken Leonard Ramos, on the other hand, called Arroyo a traitor of the Edsa 2 uprising.

He also dispelled assumptions that the youth currently experiences “EDSA fatigue.” “As long as there are no apparent and real changes, students will never tire from traversing the historical avenues of EDSA,” Ramos said.

Intelligence agents in campuses

Meanwhile, the NUSP revealed that private and state colleges and universities are now being infiltrated by government intelligence agents to stop supposed plans of students to conduct Gloriagate-related “destabilization” moves against the Arroyo regime.

“As a desperate attempt to contain the snowballing controversy, the regime has unleashed cunning intelligence agents to several campuses of the UP to collect information on upcoming plans of student councils,” Ridon said

The NUSP leader said government agents recently visited the UP campus in Diliman and asked about “scheduled activities” related to the scandal.

He also said an intelligence agent pretending to be an emissary from a foreign embassy exposed himself when he queried a group of students about the schedule of a “Hello Garci” listening session.

In a related development, Ridon said large groups of policemen are “coming and going” inside the premises of the UP Manila campus’ Office of the University Registrar.

“The regime is creating a climate of fear among the students,” Ridon said. He added that such move only shows President Arroyo is already “that paranoid and panicky,” that legitimate student councils are now being monitored. Bulatlat

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