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On student activism, maximum tolerance and the rule of law

May 14, 2022 Alfred P. Dalizon 292 views

Alfred DalizonWHILE writing this piece, over a dozen pocket rallies have been staged in front of the Comelec office in Intramuros and the Supreme Court by groups opposing the landslide victory of former Senator Bongbong Marcos Jr. and Davao City Mayor and presidential daughter Sara Duterte in last Monday’s presidential and vice-presidential race.

The protesters are from the same groups that have consistently marched in the streets to denounce the outgoing Duterte administration since June 30, 2016: BAYAN, Gabriela, Anakpawis, Kilusang Mayo Uno, Migrante, ACT-Teachers, SELDA, Karapatan, Bayan Muna, Sinagbayan, Kabataan party-list, COURAGE, Kadamay and some Church-affiliated organizations.

As PNP Officer-in-Charge, Lieutenant General Vic Danao has pointed out, everybody has the right to air their grievances and as enshrined in the Constitution, we have the freedom of speech and expression. However, what disappoints the police and the military is the regular presence of government scholars in these anti-government rallies.

His explanation is simple: these students are getting free education from the government which they are supposed to serve once they graduate. However, they are either being used wittingly or unwittingly by the CPP/NPA/NDF which has been waging a more than 50-year effort to take over the government.

This is also the reason why militant sectors have been opposing the revival of the mandatory Reserved Officers Training Corps or ROTC in public and private schools nationwide. It is widely believed that the mandatory requirement for military service training for all college students would greatly affect the rebel influence among our supposed to be future leaders.

I have come across many articles quoting some militant group leaders that making the ROTC mandatory would be a violation of the constitutional rights of the students. They make it appear that it would burden the students and their parents as they would need mandatory training uniform and extra money for additional expenses.

However, they welcome students who would join their ranks and add manpower to them as they continue their street protests instead of urging our youth to focus on their studies and be productive citizens of the country in the future. Gen. Danao said it right when he called on the student demonstrators to concentrate on their studies and get their college diplomas that would qualify them to lead the country.

Who’s financing the rallies? This has to be answered since money is needed to mobilize people, pay for their food and water, rent passenger jeepneys and public address systems and churn up all kinds of posters and tarpaulins to demonize their targets.

This week, the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict or NTF-ELCAC slammed as an “unruly mob” the group of protesters that staged a rally in front of the Comelec purportedly to “stop” the poll body from declaring the certain victory of the Marcos-Duterte tandem.

The body said it ‘strongly condemns the agitation and false propaganda dissemination by the disgruntled and unruly mob in front of the Comelec office.’ It turned out that last just hours after the election, a group of people wearing black shirts trooped in front of the Comelec Intramuros office and shouted invectives and hurled insults at poll officials.

Manila policemen have been exercising maximum tolerance in dealing with the protesters amid an instruction from Gen. Danao and Manila Police District director, Brigadier Gen. Leo Francisco. Both officials however said that their men would be forced to implement the law once the demonstrators start become unruly and launch actions that would affect other people’s lives and properties.

The NTF-ELCAC warned the demonstrators who are obviously supporting defeated presidential candidate, Vice-President Leni Robredo to stay within the bounds of law, or law enforcement agencies will deal with them accordingly.

The NTF-ELCAC pointed out that the people have already spoken when they gave Bongbong Marcos and Sara Duterte an advantage of more than 15 million votes to their closest rivals, Mrs. Robredo and Sen. Kiko Pangilinan.

The body also said that the government may apply the full force of the law against the protesters being exploited by some quarters to advance their selfish agenda once they really become a threat to national security and join the CPP/NPA/NDF in executing a plan to forcibly stop the Marcos-Duterte proclamation.

Both DILG Secretary Ed Año and National Security Adviser Jun Esperon have asked the police force to exercise maximum tolerance in handling protest rallies against the Comelec and the Marcos-Duterte victory even as they made it clear that people have freedom to express their sentiments and reactions but it must be done within the bounds of law and order.

It’s good to hear that a gentleman Manila Mayor Isko Moreno has ordered the MPD to crack down on unauthorized rallies in the city aimed at questioning the result of the May 9 polls. He said that the MPD and Manila barangay officials will strictly enforce Batas Pambansa 880 or the Public Assembly Act.

When we talked last Wednesday, Gen. Danao called on candidates who lost in the just concluded national and local elections to stop agitating their supporters into launching street protests that would only derail the government’s effort to uplift the economy battered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lastly, the PNP-OIC saluted Senators Lacson and Pacquiao and Mayor Isko for conceding early. “Ako po ay sumasaludo sa mga natalo na presidentiables na nag-concede agad. They really showed their statesmanship, their being true leaders. Sa mga talunan, please don’t agitate your supporters . We already have a bad economy due to the pandemic, hindi pa tayo nakakabawi ng husto dahil sa COVID-19 kaya please lang wag na po ninyong dagdagan pa ang ating malaking problema,” he said.

Well said Chief.