Terror law to intensify militarization inside campuses — CEGP Davao

Jul. 05, 2007

DAVAO CITY Nearly ten days before the implementation of RA 9372 also known as the Human Security Act (HSA) , youth and students are joining with other progressive forces calling to scrap the said law which would only set precedent for more anti-student policies.

Youth organizations headed by ANAKBAYAN Southern Mindanao Region, National Union of Students in the Philippines (NUSP), League of Filipino Students (LFS) and College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), believe that the current administration had not been successful in providing education for the youth but instead nailed itself on self-serving policies.

On February 8, 2007, the Senate passed on a final reading the Anti-Terrorism Act or the Human Security Act of 2007. The HSA is an act that aims to put an end to terrorism and all its forms.

“HSA only violates the basic civil right of every Filipino youth,” Arvin Gutang, Vice President for Mindanao of ANAKBAYAN said. “It limits the right of every youth to criticize the government and exercise their right to freedom of expression given the provision of warrantless arrests to suspected ‘terrorists’,” he added.

Gutang said that in the course of analyzing the HSA, there are certain provisions under the act that are doubtful and can be subject to abuse.

According to Karlos Manlupig, Davao City Coordinator of the League of Filipino Students (LFS), “the said law would set a precedent for an undeclared Martial Law by the Arroyo administration. HSA will even aggravate ‘state terrorism’. Given the track record of the Arroyo government, the HSA will give more powers to a regime that continues to violate human rights.”

“The youth and students are threatened about the ongoing militarization inside state colleges and universities, private campuses and other educational institutions because of the presence of the military inside the campuses as well as the re-instituted ROTC act and the recent HSA,” Andrhea Carreon, National Union of Students in the Philippines’ (NUSP)-Davao City Chapter spokesperson said.

“We disapprove of this law just as we dislike and criticize the current educational system under the Arroyo regime. Since youth organizations and other progressive groups are now being tagged as ‘terrorists’, we are very susceptible to the threat of this ambiguous law. Therefore, criticizing the government and fighting for civil and democratic rights is tantamount to saying that you are a ‘terrorist’,” Carreon said.

Meanwhile, Nisa Opalla, secretary general of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) stated that aside from HSA and militarization inside campuses, the Arroyo administration is making sure that the voices of the students are curbed and controlled through the new CHED Memorandum Orders (CMOs) that is implemented through the Commission on Higher Education.

“CHED is now trying to manipulate the student governments and councils as well as the student publications by releasing three new CMOs. Two of which involves the student councils and student publications,” Opalla said. “The formation of the National Council of Student Governments in the Philippines (NCSGP) and National Council of Campus Journalists in the Philippines (NCCJP) are scrupulous acts of the Arroyo government to manipulate the voices of the students,” she said.

NCSGP and NCCJP are both formed by the Commission to “establish a working institutional partnership between the CHED-Office of Student Services/Office of Student Affairs and ’empowered’ student governments and campus journalists in various Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs), private and public, sectarian or non-sectarian, in the country.”

The youth groups stressed that both organizations formed by CHED are “puppet” organizations controlled by CHED and the administration of the colleges and universities. They warn the student councils and student publications to be conscious of the said organizations as it would lead to the crippling of the autonomous nature of the student councils and publications from the school administration.

“Together with the Tuition and Other Fees Increase (TOFI), these anti-student policies are the various faces of terrorism that the Arroyo administration has put forward to the Filipino youth. The HSA is a grand master plan of the government in silencing the struggling voices of the youth and students.” Opalla stated.

The youth organizations are planning to build an alliance to combat the anti-student policies which hinder the youth from getting free and accessible education. It will be composed of secondary and tertiary student councils and publications as well as the various student clubs, youth organizations, religious groups, faculty and parents in Davao City. The said alliance will discuss the possible solutions of the students and youth problems specifically on the issue of education and anti-youth policies.

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