“Among those who should be investigated are those who freed convicted criminals, the ninja cops, those involved in pocketing public funds under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program of the National Task Force, and, most importantly, Duterte’s sell-out of the country’s sovereignty and patrimony.”
By JOMARI ALEJANDRO A. HERRERA III
MANILA – Youth leaders assailed the proposed investigation and possible filing of charges against youth activists purportedly for the recruitment of minors and cases of reported “missing teens.”
The Senate committees on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs and National Defense and Security last week penned the Senate Committee Report No. 10, ordering further investigation of alleged recruitment of minors to groups, which they claimed are fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines, its armed wing the New People’s Army, and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
The committees headed by Senators Ronaldo dela Rosa and Panfilo Lacson proposed further investigation on Kabataan Partylist Representative Sarah Elago and its 2019 second nominee Erika Cruz. Other leaders include Anakbayan current national president Alex Danday, Vencer Crisotomo, Einstein Recedes, Charie del Rosario, Bianca Gacos, and Jayroven Balais.
In a press conference Friday, student leaders stood united against the joint Senate resolution, saying that lawmakers should instead investigate their fellow public officials over “questionable government policies.”
Daryl Angelo Baybado, College Editors Guild of the Philippines national president, said, “Among those who should be investigated are those who freed convicted criminals, the ninja cops,’ those involved in pocketing public funds under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program of the National Task Force, and, most importantly, Duterte’s sell-out of the country’s sovereignty and patrimony.”
Baybado pointed out the ongoing investigations on high-ranking government officials involved in the good conduct time allowance (GCTA), mishap of the Bureau of Corrections and the possible involvement of National Capital Region Chief Police Chief Oscar Albayalde on the “ninja cops” exposé of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
Crackdown on corrupt officials instead of advocates
Alex Danday, one of those accused in the “missing minors” case, added that the government is obviously intensifying its attacks against the youth, hiding behind the veil of caring for their “welfare” and “security.”
The Senate panels also recommended the presence of state security forces in universities and colleges to conduct surveillance on student activities “to ensure their security, safety and well-being.” Teachers and administrators are also being looked into for possible “liabilities.”
Raoul Manuel, national president of the National Union of Students of the Philippines, warned the public of the possible danger of police presence inside academic institutions. He cited the recently exposed cases of hazing in the Philippine Military Academy resulting in the death of cadet last month and the hospitalization of others.
“We cannot allow them to enter school premises to teach violence and carry out torture in the name of patriotism and discipline,” Manuel said.
War budget vs. students
Instead of deploying state security forces in school premises, the Senate should also focus on providing due budget for basic social services, said University of the Philippines Manila Student Council Chairperson Prince Turtogo.
A bulk of the 4.1-trillion budget next year, Turtogo added, will go to state security forces, including the modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Last month, AlterMidya – People’s Media Network, reported the P4.5-billion (US$86.7 million) lump sum “black budget” under the proposed 2020 General Appropriations Bill. Meanwhile, health care, housing, agriculture, and education will suffer millions of budget cuts.
Rep. Sarah Elago of Kabataan Partylist swiped at Sen. Ronald dela Rosa and appealed to the Senate and to the public to put “an end [this] political persecution” and dismiss the panel’s senseless charges.”
Elago added, “we demand a safe space for the youth and the people to effectively debate, dialogue and participate in nation-building.”
Other propositions in the committee report includes the formation of a task force made up of the Commission on Higher Education, Department of Education, Commission on Human Rights, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police and other institutions, stricter issuance and implementation of IDs, state review of school curriculum and activities, and a de-radicalization program by the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the PNP.
The committee also forwarded amendments to the Party-list System Law, Special Protection of Children in Situations of Armed Conflict Act, Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003, Special Protection of Children against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act, and the Human Security Act.
Graphics by John Mark Aaron Macaraeg