Sen. Francis Escudero speaks during a Senate committee hearing.
The STAR/Geremy Pintolo, File
Escudero wants Nat'l Youth Commission chair sacked over proposal vs state scholars
( - February 20, 2019 - 10:15pm

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Francis Escudero wants the chair of National Youth Commission sacked over his proposal to revoke the scholarships of students suspected to have links with leftist organizations.

“If we’re kicking someone out, it should be him and not the students,” Escudero, chair of the Senate committee on education, arts and culture, said Wednesday.

This, after NYC head Ronald Cardema urged the president to issue an executive order stripping what he called “anti-government” students of scholarships.

Cardema, who chairs the so-called Duterte Youth Movement, also ordered Sangguniang Kabataan officials as well as Reserve Officers Training Corps and Citizen Advancement Training officers to report government scholars supposedly allied with leftist organizations.

His suggestion shows his ignorance of the Constitution and that his pronouncement is not part of the commission’s mandate, Escudero 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 President Rodrigo Duterte and the government,” the lawmaker said.

Filipinos, including students, are afforded with the right to free speech and expression, peaceful assembly to petition the government for redress of grievances.

“Both the president and the government should serve every Filipino without distinction and regardless of political beliefs. Dissent in a democracy should never be frowned upon, much less penalized in any way,” Escudero said.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo earlier 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.

He, however, qualified that if evidence is shown that a student is involved in a group that aims to overthrow the government, “we have to do something about it.”

The Anti-Subversion Law, which sought to punish those who affiliate themselves with the CPP or any subversive association, has long been repealed. — Gaea Katreena Cabico

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