This file photo shows protesters during the 2018 State of the Nation Address.
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NYC chair's proposal to revoke scholarship of ‘anti-government’ students thumbed down
Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philstar.com) - February 20, 2019 - 1:12pm

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Wednesday rejected the proposal of National Youth Commission head to strip students suspected to have links with the leftist movement of government scholarships.

NYC chair Gian Cardema asked President Rodrigo Duterte to issue an executive order removing the scholarships of what he called “anti-government” students. He specified students linked to the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army and National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

Cardema, who also chairs the so-called Duterte Youth Movement, claimed there were incidents of government scholars supposedly being caught as armed rebels.

“The Filipino people formed the government to govern, to regulate, to discipline, to collect taxes and to allocate the Filipino people’s funds into government scholarships and programs. Fighting the government means fighting the majority of the Filipino people and also not fulfilling their roles as the expected breadwinners who will uplift their families and as our hope in strengthening our country,” he said.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, however, thumbed down Cardema’s suggestion.

“We are government of laws, not of speculations. If that’s only a suspicion, that’s not allowed,” Panelo said in a press briefing Wednesday.

But he also said that there must be evidence that the students are part of groups that want to overthrow the government.

“If there’s evidence to show that it is indeed a front then necessarily we have to do something about it. The state will protect itself from any attack whether superficially, subliminally or actual but we need evidence,” Panelo said.

Filipinos, including students, have the constitutional right to freedom of expression. They also have the 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.”

Being leftist not a crime

Identifying as a leftist is also not a crime because the Anti-Subversion Law has been long repealed.

The Anti-Subversion Law was repealed in 1992 because of the perceived infringement on the constitutional rights of an individual.

Section 4 of the repealed law punished “whoever knowingly, wilfully and by over acts affiliates himself with, becomes or remains a member of the Communist Party of the Philippines and/or its successor or of any subversive association.”

The Marcos-era Presidential Decree 1835, similarly repealed, defines communist subversive groups as existing "for the purpose of overthrowing the Government of the Republic of the Philippines or for the purpose of removing from the allegiance to said government or its laws, the territory of the Philippines or any part thereof, with the open or covert assistance or support of a foreign power or the open or covert support from a foreign source of any association, group of persons, whether public or private, by force, violence, terrorism, arson, assassination, deceit or other illegal means."

Youth group to Cardema: Resign now

The National Union of Students of the Philippines called on Cardema to resign following his proposal to revoke the scholarship of “anti-government” students.

“Copying his boss Duterte, the NYC Chair acts like a tyrant so insecure that he attacks our right to express as enshrined in the Constitution just to silence critics and watchdogs of government policies,” NUSP Deputy Secretary General Raoul Manuel said.

He added: “Students of today continue to protest because amidst free public education, majority of students in senior high school and college still suffer from expensive tuition and other fees which increase annually. To our shock, the NYC Chair just wants these students to shut up and suffer in silence.”

Manuel also stressed that free education and scholarships are from people’s money, not from the president’s.

“So students are not indebted to the corrupt tyrant in Malacanang. We owe our education to the Filipino people, to whom the youth offers its efforts as we push for the rights and welfare of the oppressed millions,” he said.

Related video:

NATIONAL YOUTH COMMISSION
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