In a letter sent by Palatino to the DepEd, the legislator said “the waiver, as a prerequisite for enrolment, is an affront to students’ constitutional rights to organize, freedom of expression, and access to education. Our laws do not permit students to be stripped of their rights to express their views and opinions and petition the government or school authorities for redress of grievances. Our laws prohibit schools from using such waivers to limit the youth’s access to education – especially secondary education. On the contrary, our laws encourage schools to aid students’ active fulfillment of their vital role in nation-building.”
The school only allowed her to enroll on June 8, after the dialogue with the DepEd and after the intercession of the Kabataan party-list group. She is now in third year high school.
Harassment of LFS Members
Teri Ridon, secretary-general of the LFS, said Tubera’s case “only shows that even officials from the Department of Education are now part of the state security forces that harass members of legal democratic organizations like the LFS.”
The LFS is a progressive youth organization that was one of those that defied the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos and is among the groups that organize protests against the Arroyo regime. The group has been tagged as a front organization of the communist New People’s Army and, as a result, they have suffered harassment by the military.
Ridon said the military goes around schools and universities accusing – through forums and video presentations — the LFS and other progressive groups as communist fronts, a charge the military does not deny. Military officials have long insisted that these front organizations are helping the New People’s Army (NPA) and are organizing students to join these protests or join the NPA.
Ridon said the red-tagging has put the lives of LFS members in danger. “We are not armed,” he said. “And what if we are fighting for education, against human-rights violations and for the promotion social justice? Shouldn’t everyone be fighting with us for this cause?” Ridon said.
Young activists, some of them members of the LFS and other youth groups, have been victims of extrajudicial killings and other human-rights abuses in the Philippines. According to human-rights groups, more than 1,000 Filipinos, mostly activists, have been killed since 2001 and hundreds more have disappeared.
A Phase in the Struggle
Tubera said she is happy now that she is finally enrolled. Although the DepEd officials did warn her that the school might still find a way to get rid of her, Tubera smiled when she said she felt otherwise. “I think that they would instead allow me to pass me in every subject and to eventually graduate and leave Culiat High School,” she said in jest.
Ridon said that he is confident that Tubera will overcome her ordeal. “Her own father told Kate that this is really a phase in the struggle that we, as activists, are all in,” he said.
Cadiogan, however, insists that this is just a small victory. “There was no real gain in the struggle that Kate got herself into,” she told Bulatlat. “It was all a matter of reclaiming what was already hers to begin with.” (Bulatlat.com)