“Arroyo is so desperate to cling to power that she will do anything, even steal a moment with some student representatives just to make the people believe that she is still supported by the youth sector. She’s a big liar,” Palatino said.
Few days after that, the Western Police District (WPD) issued a directive to school officials to confine student protests inside the campuses. Moreover, Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) Student Regent Diana Mond Directo revealed that police and intelligence agents are now being deployed inside their campus to spy on the student council and other organizations.
Youth groups also slammed National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales’ statement that 83 percent of those attending anti-Arroyo pickets and rallies are Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) front organizations.
“Where in God’s name did he come up with that ratio? Malacañang is once again resorting to baseless name-tagging and witch hunts at the expense of thousands of youth and students. This is not democracy, this is worse than Martial Law. Now we are under the threat of being arrested for merely exercising our rights to express ourselves and fighting for what we stand for,” said Eleanor de Guzman, Anakbayan secretary-general and Youth DARE convenor.
Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita earlier declared that alleged front organizations and members of the National Democratic Front face impending arrest following its decision to back out of peace negotiations with the Arroyo administration.
League of Filipino Students (LFS) chair Vencer Crisostomo also warned the police and Arroyo not to use rumors of NPA (New People’s Army) infiltration to justify the use of violence to counter the SONA protest.
“Stories of ‘communist infiltration’ in the SONA rallies are being hyped by the police to justify use of violence. We tell them however that the students will not be cowed by their threats,” he said.
Youth speaks up
Meanwhile, LFS and Youth DARE started to gather a million signatures among the youth and students last week to push for Arroyo’s resignation.
Crisostomo said the signature campaign will be conducted nationwide by various youth organizations to “strongly register” the youth’s demand that Arroyo leave her post immediately.
“This will also counter Arroyo’s propaganda that the ‘middle forces’ and the youth have not yet taken their stand,” he explained.
Crisostomo also explained that youth participation is essential to the campaign for Arroyo’s resignation because gives the movement “fresh perspectives and bright prospects.”
Different christian youth and church-based organization also held a “Jericho March” from Sto. Domingo Church to Welcome Rotonda in Quezon City last Friday to drumbeat the big rally on Monday.
Organizers of the event said Arroyo learn from the lesson of the city of Jericho in the Bible. In the story, the Israelites were able to bring down the thick walls of Jericho by creating noise while encircling the city seven times.
With the theme “Let our voices be heard! Blow the trumpets of justice!,” students, seminarians and church youth also held a series of noise barrage to call on Arroyo to voluntarily leave Malacañang.
“Ayaw naming magmana ng isang kinabukasang madilim at walang pag-asa. Sa mga ipinatupad na polisiya ni Arroyo sa loob ng apat na taon, hindi niya dininig ang boses ng kabataan (We don’t want to inherit a bleak and hopeless future. Arroyo’s policies in her last four years in office did not listen to the youth’s demands),” Student Christian Movement Chair Dion Carlo Cerrafon said.
“Kailangang magkaroon ng isang ‘fresh leadership,’ isang demokratikong konseho ng mamamayan na kakatawan sa iba’t ibang sektor ng lipunan. Ito ang magtitiyak na maisusulong ang kanilang mga kagyat na kahilingan tulad ng edukasyon, kabuhayan at iba pang batayang karapatan (We need to have a ”fresh leadership,” a people’s democratic council which will represent all sectors of society. This will ensure that our urgent demands like education, livelihood and other basic rights are met),” Cerrafon said. Bulatlat