MANILA — “Our hope lies in the idealism and activism of the youth.”
This is the response of progressive youth group Anakbayan in President Duterte’s statement that the Leftists youths are laying down their lives for “ideologies that don’t have anything to contribute.”
Duterte made the statement during his speech in Pampanga this week, apparently referring to the UP Manila student Josephine Anne Lapira and 14 other suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) who were reportedly killed in an encounter with the Philippine National Police and 730th Combat Airforce in Nasugbu, Batangas.
Duterte said that it was too late to introduce “even the simplest form of socialism as Filipinos will never be ready for it.”
In a rally yesterday, Dec. 7 in Mendiola, youth and student activists were the first to call for the ouster of Duterte, whose electoral handle was “Change is coming.” Protesters said none of the change he promised came true. Instead, the political killings and attacks on the people’s livelihood continue. Also yesterday, youth groups joined the National Day of Walkout in major state universities nationwide.
“In this mouthful of fentanyl-induced rambling, Duterte once more reveals his true self as a defender of an old semi-colonial and semi-feudal order,” said Anakbayan national chairperson Vencer Crisostomo in a statement.
“Indeed, his latest rant only reaffirms his blatantly fascist and reactionary character and completely belies the platform of change, promises of social reforms, and going against the old oligarchy with which he duped many during his electoral campaign,” he added.
In a response posted in her social media account, Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago said “to fight for the rights and with the poor and marginalized is a noble choice.”
“How ironic that fighting for the rights of the marginalized and oppressed is considered a waste of time but killing innocent people is considered acceptable,” she added.
They criticized Duterte’s disregard for human rights as seen in the government’s war on drugs which killed thousands, and the political killings and other human rights abuses which have escalated especially after Duterte issued a proclamation terminating the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
Members of the progressive youth organizations are also being targeted by suspected state agents. They condemned harassments to youth leaders. Just last week, a member of League of Filipino Students-University of Sto. Tomas chapter started receiving threats through the cellphone.
“When did standing up for what is right and just ever become a crime? Always only when there is a fascist in the highest position of government,” Elago said.
Mark Vincent Lim, National Union of Students in the Philippines (NUSP) spokesperson, meanwhile said it is Duterte who is wasting time, as he “still sits at the throne in Malacanang.”
Crisostomo said that movement for genuine change in the country’s socio-political system will continue to be advanced by the younger generation.
“Hope lies in the idealism and activism of the youth who, open to new ideas and filled with optimism for a better future, are willing to serve the people and fight injustice even it means risking their very lives.”
“While an aging, opiate-addicted Duterte, nostalgic for Marcos-style absolute power, is only bent on bringing everyone who does not agree with his authoritarian and murderous vision along with him to the grave,” he added.
While there is a growing oppression of those who resist, the groups said they are left with no other choice but to strengthen the fight against tyranny and dictatorship.
“To back down right now because of his threats and attacks is to abandon the struggle of the people for genuine freedom and democracy. To not back down and cower because of fear is to realize the historic and significant role of the youth as pag-asa ng bayan,” said Elago.
Elago encouraged the people join the mobilization on December in celebration of International Human Rights Day.