Vice President Leni Robredo slams the suggestion of National Youth Commission Chairperson Ronald Cardema asking President Rodrigo Duterte to revoke scholarships of students allegedly linked to communist groups.
Office of the Vice President
Does NYC want our youth to be ‘blind followers?’ — Robredo 
( - February 20, 2019 - 9:57pm

MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo hit the statements of National Youth Commission Chairperson Ronald Cardema for asking President Rodrigo Duterte to revoke scholarships of students involved in “anti-government” protest. 

“Pag sinabi yan ng National Youth Commission, gusto bang sabihin na yung gusto nating klaseng kabataang Pilipino, yung sunod-sunuran lang (When the National Youth Commission says [that], does that mean he wants our youth to be blind followers)?” Robredo asked. “Gusto ba natin ang kabataang Pilipino yung hindi nabibigyan ng boses para ipahayag yung kanyang paniniwala (Do we want a Filipino youth that doesn’t give voice to speak up for what they believe in)?”

Cardema made the comments about revoking scholarships in a statement released on Wednesday. 

“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,”  his statement read.

“Specifically those students who are allied with the leftist CPP-NPA-NDF, a terrorist group that is trying to overthrow the Philippine Government and killing our government troops,” he added.

He also urged officials of the youth groups Sangguniang Kabataan, Reserve Officers’ Training Corps and the Citizen Army Training to report government scholars who are allegedly linked to communist groups like the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army and National Democratic Front. 

Independent youth organizations criticized Cardema’s statement as a violation of students’ individual rights. 

READ: NYC chair's proposal to revoke scholarship of ‘anti-government’ students thumbed down

Robredo said that the environment for free speech should be where Filipinos are "free to air their beliefs and not afraid to say what their feelings are with a government ready to listen, even if what they [Filipinos] have to say are critical." 

The National Union of Students of the Philippines also called for Cardema’s resignation for his statement

Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero went as far as to ask Duterte to fire Cardema over his comments. He said, “The sycophantic and obsequious suggestion of the NYC head shows his ignorance of the Constitution and, far from helping, is surely doing a disservice to PRRD and the government,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.

“If there is someone who should be fired, it should be him [Cardema] and not the students,” he added.

Cardema is also the national chairman of the right-wing Duterte Youth Movement. — Ryan Macasero

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