Duterte promoting ‘intolerance of dissent’ in the country — Colmenares
MANILA, Philippines — Makabayan senatorial candidate Neri Colmenares has blamed President Rodrigo Duterte’s promotion of “intolerance of dissent” in the country for a proposal to strip students joining rallies of their scholarships.
National Youth Commission (NYC) head Ronald Cardema in a statement on Tuesday asked Duterte to issue an Executive Order that would remove the scholarship of students joining anti-government demonstrations. According to Cardema, students in rallies have links with the Communist Party of the Philippines, New Peoples’ Army, and National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).
“I always say this, ang problem po kasi kay President Duterte ang natuturo niya kasi sa iba is intolerance of dissent eh. I mean, when he speaks, bibirahin ka niya, gago ka, criminal ka, P.I. mo, ang Diyos mo stupido, pero kapag may sasabihin naman sa kanya ‘yong iba galit siya,” Colemares explained during a press conference on Wednesday.
“Hindi siya sport eh kasi if you can dish it, you can take it. So ngayon natuturo niya doon sa iba: No, kami lang ang pwedeng mag-bira, kapag bumira kayo d’yan you’re already irresponsible dapat pigilan ka,” he added.
Cardema — who led the Duterte Youth group before he joined government — also asked officials of the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK), Reserved Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), and Citizen Army Training (CAT) to report scholars who are purportedly members of leftist groups.
“As Chairman of the National Youth Commission, I am requesting our Head of Government, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, to issue an Executive Order removing the government scholarships of all anti-government scholars,” Cardema said.
But Colmenares said it has been a tactic of the Duterte administration to brand its critics as ‘reds’ or communists even if the issues raised were valid.
“‘Yan ang problema eh […] Ang criticism sa gobyerno ranges from mali ‘yong TRAIN law (tax reform law), ‘yong Cha-Cha (Charter Change), ‘yong EJK (extra-judicial killings), ‘yong pork barrel sa budget, mali ‘yong korapsyon,” he explained.
“Ang interpretasyon porque’t nagre-raise ka ng gano’ng issue, NPA ka? Secondly, social justice provisions, nasa Constitution. So how can anyone espousing or practicing, exercising his constitutional right be subjected to red-tagging, and mabuti kung red-tagging lang, target ka,” he added.
Colmenares then warned that such habit of the current administration and its officials could be the start of a shift to dictatorship, where freedom of expression is suppressed.
“Tignan mo ‘yong interpretation niya ng responsible exercise, kapag nagra-rally ka, hindi na ‘yan responsible exercise. So lahat ng estudyante na sumama no’ng EDSA 1, lakad sa pork barrel ‘yong million people march, hindi responsableng exercise ‘yan,” Colmenares said.
“Dangerous and ominous sign ‘yan ng ating shift to a dictatorship, when not only the President (leads) but a young youth commission officer who is supposed to know that students and youth value freedom,” he added.
The former lawmaker urged Cardema to file a case against people joining protests, if he has sufficient evidence they are indeed communist rebels.
“Actually ang tanong sa kanya, ilegal naman ‘yan, under the law it is disallowed ‘di ba, why don’t you file a case? The President is with you, the President is a lawyer, why don’t you file a case kung tingin mo may ebidensya?” he stressed. /kga
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