The youth group Anakbayan dared the Commission on Human Rights today to investigate and expel members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) who have been conducting operations in public schools across the country.
As early as last July, Anakbayan chapters in the provinces of Benguet, Cebu, and Isabela have reported forums being conducted by Army troops in public schools at the elementary, secondary, and tertiary levels. Only recently was the youth group able to acquire a copy of the Department of Education (DepEd) memorandum allowing such activities.
Anakbayan members reported that in these forums, soldiers warned students from joining ‘anti-budget cut’ and ‘anti-tuition increase’ rallies, as well as progressive groups like Anakbayan, on the ground that these were ‘communist fronts’.
“It only goes to show that despite their avowals of ‘reform’, the military today is the same monster during Martial Law” said Vencer Crisostomo, national chairperson of Anakbayan.
“Behind a mask of supposed reform, there is still that same mindset of ‘if you aren’t with us, you’re a Communist’. It is still an institution in which concepts such as freedoms of speech, joining any organization, and political beliefs are completely alien to them” said the youth leader.
Crisostomo added ‘The military’s tactic of using fear to dissuade youths and students from questioning and criticizing the government can only be described as Marcosian”.
Meanwhile, Anakbayan demanded immediate action from the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), especially its head, former activist Etta Rosales.
Rosales was criticized last Monday by Anakbayan and other youth groups when the former claimed that protesting youths ‘did not understand Martial Law’.