Youth groups in Southern Tagalog oppose reso urging military-led ‘national security awareness’ bid in schools

February 27, 2024


By JACINTO LINGATONG
Bulatlat.com

SANTA CRUZ, Laguna — Youth groups in Southern Tagalog have strongly opposed the proposed resolution of the 202nd Infantry Brigade, Philippine Army and CALABARZON Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF ELCAC) urging the Department of Education (DepEd) Region IV-A, Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Region IV-A, Technical Education And Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Region IV-A to ‘support the conduct of national security awareness sessions in the secondary and tertiary schools’.

Photo by Jacinto Lingatong
Students pose in front of the Provincial Capitol of Laguna after the Sangguniang Bayan session last February 25.
Jpeg Garcia (left), Ida Palo (right) shows the filed position paper opposing the resolution.

“The resolution is being railroaded by the military but there is no youth and student representation when they conduct joint meetings with the PTF ELCAC and Laguna Peace and Order Council (LPOC). We have the right to do so, because it will be us who will be affected by campus militarization and red tagging in the guise of national security awareness,” said Ida Palo, regional coordinator of Youth Movement Against Tyranny – Southern Tagalog (YMAT ST).

YMAT, along with Kabataan Partylist (KPL) Laguna, and Youth Advocates for Peace with Justice (YAPJUST UPLB), conducted lobbying efforts in the provincial capitol of Laguna, Feb. 25, but they were not allowed to deliver a speech during the joint meeting of PTF ELCAC and LPOC.

YMAT ST emphasized that such seminars conducted by the NTF ELCAC often serve as avenues for red-tagging, a practice where individuals or organizations are branded as affiliated with communist or terrorists without evidence.

Citing the International Peace Observers Network (IPON), the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) defines red-tagging as ‘an act of State actors, particularly law enforcement agencies, to publicly brand individuals, groups, or institutions as…affiliated to communist or leftist terrorists.’

The youth groups asserted that these seminars have been used to target legal organizations and accused them of being front organizations of the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army – National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NPA-NDF).

The opposition to the resolution is grounded in the belief that red-tagging is detrimental to human rights and academic freedom.

“Red-tagging violates the constitutional guarantee of presumption of innocence and may lead to serious implications on the security and movement of individuals and groups involved,” said Palo.

YMAT highlighted instances of red-tagging in various educational institutions, including UPLB, PUP Lopez in Quezon province, Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Cabuyao, and Pulo National High School in Cabuyao.

“These incidents threaten academic freedom and the safety of students and teachers, and the resolution, if passed, will make it easier for this to happen,” said Palo.

The youth groups have issued a five-point demand that they have filed with the different offices in the Laguna Provincial Capitol, urging the local government to maintain educational institutions as safe havens for academic freedom, review the scope of work of the provincial Special Action Committee on Insurgency, enjoin educational institutions to study and recreate the landmark resolution of UPLB titled ‘Resolution to Make UPLB a Safe Haven of Free and Critical Thinking,’ consult youth-led civil society organizations and alliances in government initiatives that affect the youth and students, among others.

“We are calling for the protection of human rights and academic freedom in educational institutions, and we are urging the government to reconsider its approach to national security awareness sessions in schools to prevent further red-tagging and ensure the safety and well-being of students and teachers,” said Palo. (RVO) (https://www.bulatlat.org)





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