Tell It to SunStar: Smear campaign

By National Union of Students of the Philippines

WE, STUDENT and youth formations, are gravely alarmed over the attempts of several government agencies to malign the 1st National Students Day Youth Camp, a two-day activity in the Philippines which is in line with the celebration of the International Students Day.

Enforced into law on Aug. 8 this year, Republic Act 11369 recognizes Nov. 17 as National Students Day. This law, co-authored by Kabataan Party-list in the House of Representatives, aims to recognize the invaluable contribution of student activism to the country. The law even encourages “support for exercises and activities launched by students during the observance of National Students Day” (Section 4, RA 11369).

With this, we are disappointed at the National Youth Commission (NYC) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) for trying to discredit activities launched by students and youth.

That the NYC has an event to be held on Nov. 16 about drug addiction should not hinder the NYC from supporting other activities so that more students can participate in the celebration and address the many youth-related issues aside from drugs, such as democratic rights, discrimination, education, climate justice, national sovereignty, among others.

Moreover, we slam the DILG for insinuating that the event will be used by “communist-led front organizations” for their own agenda.

This is an insult to youth formations that are working together to conduct this activity.

If this continues, we fear that the time will come when student-led activities will have to undergo similar scrutiny and be maliciously tagged before (or instead of) getting endorsement and support from duly mandated agencies.

We would like to remind our government officials that the International Students Day was spearheaded by the International Students’ Council in 1941 to commemorate the killing of nine student leaders in Prague and the closing of all Czech universities and colleges in 1939 after student protests were held that year to denounce the fascist Nazi regime of Germany.

Now that our schools are under the same threats of campus militarization and crippling of academic freedom and while we live in times of intensified crackdown among the Filipino people who assert our rights, it is high time that we celebrate National Students Day on Nov. 17 to identify and fulfill the role of young Filipinos today.

The coordinated attacks by government agencies on the Youth Camp give us more reason to come together and forge stronger unities to advance the welfare of students, youth and the Filipino people.