Why suppress critical thinking and the quest for truth?
AS A MATTER OF FACT - Sara Soliven De Guzman (The Philippine Star) - October 8, 2018 - 12:00am

How desperate can both the chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the chief of the Philippine National Police be by trying to uncover the alleged communist 9-plan grand plot dubbed “Red October” through prematurely disclosing intelligence information tending to suggest, directly or indirectly, that 18 popular universities in Metro Manila are being targeted for recruitment or were already infiltrated by communist insurgents.

Are these two top brass officials as efficient as their Commander in Chief think they are?

While the two chiefs were “red-tagging” and trying to persuade the public on the misdeeds allegedly done by these educational institutions, the President was not only in the hospital but was also in Hong Kong enjoying life. If the President is the number target of the leftist-wing and if his safety is the priority at this time, then why did they even allow him to prance along the streets of Hong Kong, while the famous “selfie ng Bayan” or “pambansang photobomber” continued to take the President’s family pictures and share them publicly?

Why are the AFP chief and PNP chief being alarmists? Why are they exaggerating a danger and causing needless panic? Don’t they have protocols that they must go by first before declaring a war against students and educational institutions? Are there statistics strongly showing them how many students of these schools have fled to the mountains and joined the “reds”?

All they created was havoc! They caused unwarranted fear unless they planned this as a possible precursor to declaring martial law. Sanamagan! The danger of reckless “red-tagging” is the consequent stereotyping to the prejudice of even the most innocent student donning the school uniform of an identified school. If a student or group of students will post on social media their personal dislike on the manner the government is dealing with inflation, EJK, corruption, the drug problem, etc. would that be considered an act of conspiracy with the plotters of Red October? Would this be sufficient to earn his school the reputation of being a breeding ground for activists and future insurgents? How can you suppress the nation in talking about martial law especially during its anniversary month?

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Does our President really want the youth of this land to be passive, to stop developing critical thinking skills, to be lame? This seems to be the voice of the AFP chief and PNP chief these days. And where are the voices of the Department of Education Secretary, TESDA and CHED? And while you are at it, can you first review the voice of our President, his words, his sly innuendos and actions?

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Remember: Galileo insisted through scientific papers that Copernicus was right to say that the Earth wasn’t the center of the solar system. He was called a heretic, a non-believer, a person who wanted to destroy society’s core beliefs. He was subsequently imprisoned.

Martin Luther King Jr. argued that black people were no less than white people, and that people like him weren’t born to be slaves. Because the state believed otherwise, he was not free to voice out his opinion. His ideas – human rights granted to people regardless of race – were too radical for the government to handle. He was then imprisoned for protesting without a permit.

Women who argued to have their right to vote recognized were called destabilizers of their households. Homemakers want to have a say in the government? Blasphemous! Some of these suffragettes ended up in jail, tortured for introducing another dangerous idea: women were no less than men.

All these dangerous ideas – scientific progress, equal rights – ideas that now benefit this society, were defended by people regardless of the danger it put them in. Overcoming dark realities took years, decades. Progress didn’t come in a silver platter. Now, progress is again being put to trial.

The madness of martial law: The Philippines has progressed from being a country in shackles for two decades with a dictator in the seat of power. All that’s left to tell the story of abuse, blood on the streets, sudden deaths in jail, bodies in rivers, are testimonies in flesh or on paper. The blood has long been washed off the streets.

Decades later, the atrocities of martial law are still being taught in school. It isn’t so much because we dwell too much in the past, unaware of the present realities that beset us. It’s because we don’t want this generation to relive the darkness so many Filipinos had to suffer from.

We teach the youth to protect them, the same way legislators crafted the 1987 Constitution to protect the country from another dictatorship.

To answer the oppression during martial law, we have the Bill of Rights. To remind people of their right to free speech, we have Art. III Sec. 4 of the Constitution. These are only some of the remnants of a generation who so longed for justice that when they had it again, they made sure it would take blood and steel to take it away again.

Now, the country is seeing a replay of events we thought we’ve buried. Critical, creative, reflective, caring, and responsive thinking is being attacked. Last year we’ve seen media attacked, belittled, and stripped of credibility. The attention has now shifted to education institutions.

Teachers trying to make the students realize how hard others fought to have democracy restored are now being labeled subversive. Teaching kids the value of their rights enshrined in the Constitution has suddenly become unconstitutional.

Sec. 4.1, Art. XIV of the 1987 Constitution states that Section 4.(1) The State recognizes the complementary roles of public and private institutions in the educational system and shall exercise reasonable supervision and regulation of all educational institutions.

Taking a look at the past, any history teacher will tell you, is not a sign of regression or unwarranted regret. Studying history is not about living in the past, but about making sure the present is better.

Perhaps those who instigate that teaching history is contemptuous are in dire need of a refresher. Or even a basic lesson on language: subservience is not synonymous to progress.

Even in the face of this blatant attack, educational institutions must not shirk from their duty of helping the youth learn from the past. Education’s role in society is transformative, not regressive.

If it’s so dangerous to want to educate the youth, then there wouldn’t be enough prisons in the world to contain all those who will continue to stand up for the right to be informed.

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