Robredo: Removing scholarships from critical students a curtailment of freedom of expression
CEBU CITY — Removing the scholarship of students who are anti-government curtails their freedom of expression, according to Vice President Robredo.
She told a news conference on Wednesday that she was worried about the call of the National Youth Commission (NYC) chair Ronald Cardema.
“Pag sinabi yan ng National Youth Commission, gusto bang sabihin na yung gusto nating klaseng kabataang Pilipino, yung sunod-sunuran lang? Gusto ba natin ang kabataang Pilipino yung hindi nabibigyan ng boses para ipahayag yung kanyang paniniwala? (If the NYC says that, does it mean that we want our youth to be just blind followers? Do we want our Filipino youth to lose their voices to express their beliefs),” she asked.
Cardema earlier asked President Duterte to remove the scholarship of students with alleged links to the Communist Party of the Philippines, New Peoples’ Army, and the National Democratic Front.
He also asked officials of the Sangguniang Kabataan, the Reserved Officers’ Training Corps, and the Citizen Army Training to report scholars who were perceived members of the 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 Robredo said activism in the Filipino youth had always been viewed as initiators of change whenever the country underwent conflicts.
She cited during Martial Law and People Power 1 when the youth fought and removed a dictator who had the country under an iron rule for more than 20 years.
Robredo said the youth are even more courageous than most Filipinos because they stand up against unacceptable government policies.
“It is because we want Filipinos to be free to express their views, Filipinos who are not afraid to say what they feel and a government ready to listen even if it was something they didn’t want to hear,” Robredo added.
“So for the national commission on youth to issue such a statement, parang kailangan na ba tayong matakot? Kailangan na ba tayong matakot na yung mga namumuno ng ating mga kabataan ay ganyan na ang pag-iisip? (Do we have to be afraid? Do we have to be afraid that the leader of our youth thinks that way?).”
Robredo was in Cebu City on Wednesday to promote the 2019 Istorya ng Pagasa Film festival which features local documentaries and films that “inspire” ordinary Filipinos.
On Thursday, the Vice President was expected to hold a series of dialogs with several sectors here./lzb
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