‘Duterte Youth’ member and National Youth Commission chair are taking aim at youth scholars

February 15, 2019 - 4:14 PM
NYC Ronald Cardema Interaksyon
National Youth Commission Chair Ronald Cardema's appeal to remove the scholarships of youth activists was talked about again online. (Artwork by Uela Altar-Badayos)

A member of the “Duterte Youth” group reiterated the proposed removal of scholarships for student rallyists made by National Youth Commission chair Ronald Cardema.

Erap J. De Guzman, a member of right-wing “Duterte Youth” group posted on February 11 a copy of a 2018 report of Radyo Pilipinas wherein Cardema, the chair of Duterte Youth, said that “militant” students do not deserve their scholarships.

Pagtanggal sa scholarship program ng mga estudyante na sumasama sa mga rally laban sa gobyerno, kinatigan ng Youth…

Posted by Erap J De Guzman on Monday, February 11, 2019

Cardema back then stated that President Rodrigo Duterte is right on replacing the scholars who participate in street demonstrations with those who are more “patriotic.”

“Una nang nanawagan ang youth sector sa law enforcement agencies na arestuhin ang ilang kabataan na nananawagan na ibagsak ang kasalukuyang administrasyon,” he said.

Even if he did not cite the original report, De Guzman’s re-post made rounds on Facebook and even received praises in the comments section.

Positive comment on NYC vs student youth activists
Screenshot by Interaksyon

Twitter user @gendiamonds lamented on the number of Filipinos who agreed on such perception of student youth groups.

Last January, Cardema told the 400,000-strong Sangguniang Kabataan officials to report all youth leaders who engage in activities that scrutinize government’s policies and opinions to the NYC.

For him, being too critical may become a factor for the Filipino youth to be recruited as rebels.

“Being Presidential Supporters or Presidential Critics is part of a healthy democracy, no problem with that. But being consistently Anti-Government, being Anti-Government Troops, and being the youth recruitment base of rebels…the newly-elected government youth leaders of today must make a stand,” he said.

He also alleged in an episode of ANC’s “Early Edition” that some youth groups have links with communist rebels.

“Every week, you have the capacity to rally against our government troops but for the longest time wala namang naririnig ang Philippine society na nag-rally kayo against armed rebels of our country,” he said.

Cardema has been accused of using the agency for the government’s propaganda against communists since his appointment as NYC’s leader in 2018.

That year, the military tagged majority of the educational institutions in Metro Manila and film industry workers on a supposed ouster plot against Duterte called “Red October.”

Right to rally

According to The Public Assembly Act of 1985, Filipinos, including students have the constitutional right to organize a public assembly “to petition the government for redress of grievances is essential and vital to the strength and stability of the State.”

Public assembly can be in the form of a “rally, demonstration, march, parade, procession or any other form of mass or concerted action held in a public place for the purpose of presenting a lawful cause.”

However, organizers of such event should secure a rallying permit first at the local government office where the activity will take place.

In section 11, it is stated that no permitted assemblies shall be dispersed by law enforcement agencies unless it becomes violent.

In February 2018, student activists from the University of the Philippines staged a massive walkout to protest state policies.

Duterte later threatened to rid off these students of their scholarships, even if nearly all of them still pay tuition fees, and replace them with members of the Lumad communities. —Artwork by Uela Altar-Badayos