Youth activists tell Bato: we learn to tell right from wrong

Aug. 13, 2019

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Former police chief and now Senator Ronaldo “Bato” dela Rosa proposes to deploy police into universities and campuses following complaints from parents that their children have been recruited to activist groups and have not returned home.

His proposal, however, is criticized by progressive youth groups as an “orchestrated attack” that violates academic and Constitutional freedoms.

Jayvie Cabajes, Kabataan Partylist Vice Chairperson for Mindanao, said the move curtails the democratic right of the students to express, organize and assemble, especially with the authority’s “twisted” definition that expressing dissent already means leaning to the communist movement.

Dela Rosa, as chair of the Senate committee on public order, pushed for increase police visibility after a hearing with parents of activists who left them to join “left-leaning youth organizations”.

The move was supported by the PNP and Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año.

Cabajes warned that what Dela Rosa and Año proposes would “remove schools as zones of peace.”

“Exercising academic freedom in schools will be removed, for you’ll eventually be tagged as members of the CPP-NPA, even though you are just questioning the realities of the society,” he explained.

The PNP has targeted youth activists groups among others in a “Red October Matrix” as fronts of communists planning the ouster of the president.

Cabajes said such red-tag endangers not only student activists, but all freedoms with the presence of police or even soldiers in the academe.

He also pointed out that the PNP has its record of violating the rights of the youth and children including the deaths of Kian delos Santos, as an effect of the war on drugs launched in 2016 under the leadership of Dela Rosa as head of PNP.

“Most likely this will happen again once several police are inside school campuses. Many students will be threatened of their security,” Cabajes said.

Other youth activist groups challenge Senator Dela Rosa’s claims. The League of Filipino Students (LFS), a group formed during the Marcos dictatorship, slammed the “orchestrated attacks against the youth, using harassment, intimidation, and vilification to discredit genuine progressive actions.”

“It seems the only move that this government knows is to declare martial law in places of growing dissent, such as in Mindanao, Negros, and now within our schools, instead of actually addressing the genuine demands of the people,” LFS national spokesperson Kara Taggaoa said.

Another group, Anakbayan chides Dela Rosa for his advice to parents to watch out for teenage children who know how to argue as a sign they are being recruited by left leaning groups.

“Bato is an utter fool thinking that children remain static,” said Anakbayan spokesperson Alex Danday. “Changing means that we have learned to ask questions, to tell right from wrong, and make our own decisions–something that Dela Rosa has never learned in his 57 years.”

Danday added parents should be glad that their children are “taking political stands in this day and age.”

“It means that they have been raised well, to value the dignity of human life, to resist oppression, tyranny, and injustice, and fight for the rights and welfare of the Filipino people, Danday said. (

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