November 19, 2022 (10:10 AM)

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ALL FOR ONE, ONE FOR ALL. YouthUnite Press Conference with representatives Alec Gabrielle Gonzales, Vingeelou Omar Aton, Beverly Godfredo, Kurt Ryan David Encabo, Raphael John Dimalanta, and Harvey Lao (L-R) at the UP Mindanao Library last Thursday, November 17. Photo by Jerachris Megaela Rosal

Confronting the reinstatement of the Mandatory Reserve Officers Training Corps (MROTC), youth organizations disproved the implementation of MROTC, State Universities, and Colleges (SUCs) budget cuts, and fear appeals.

Alec Gonzales (CHSS SC Chairperson), Vingeelou Aton (Rise4Education Convenor), Beverly Gofredo (Anakbayan Spokesperson), Kurt Encabo (a senior high school student), Raphael Dimalanta (USC Vice Chairperson), and Harvey Lao (Mindanao Kabataan Partylist-SMR Vice-President) called on government negligence, pushing for better educational reforms amidst the implementation of MROTC. 

“We are now in the third year of amplifying the calls of the education sector, mainly of the learners, who are tagged as the country’s hope,” Gonzales stated, explaining how MROTC compromises their rights and opportunities. 

Meanwhile, Aton highlighted the importance of face-to-face classes in student activism and education after the antecedent pandemic, “Being limited into the online set-up, it puts boundaries…limitations to express our rights to activism..and education as well.”

Youth leaders continued to oppose MROTC by revealing different loopholes in the country’s education system after the return of face-to-face classes. 

“We should be a collectivist society. We should be advocating for the last, least, and lost because we are privileged,” Lao said, reminding the youth to speak against abuse of power. 

Aton highlighted such a call and explained how students, in particular, play a massive role in this campaign, noting that “…we need to stand, and we need to be united in promoting this campaign. We cannot move forward if there are only [a] few students clamoring for these campaigns.” 

Problems regarding rampant red tagging arose, however, Lao continued to provide solutions on how to equip the youth with enough protection for themselves and their loved ones. 

“Get organized. If you have something to fight for, gather,” he said.

Debunking fear appeals

Government sectors pushed MROTC as it reportedly instills “patriotism” and “discipline” among students. However, such perceptions were debunked as youth leaders pointed out the underlying problems regarding the fear appeal. 

“Let us not forget about Mark Chua. Daghag kinabuhi ang nakalas because of corruption and culture of impunity within ROTC,” Lao said, debunking supposed “discipline” in MROTC.

“ROTC is not only a ground for abuse, but also for discrimination,” Encabo said. 

He also revealed several misconducts held on the school grounds, such as discrimination against the LGBTQ community, hence inflicting “physical and mental harm among students.”

“It is our job to be against it,” Raphael Dimalanta (USC Vice Chairperson) emphasized at a press conference at UP Mindanao last November 18. Photo by Jerachris Megaela C. Rosal

In a humanitarian light, Dimalanta further elaborated on the concept of fear appeal in the discipline.

“Fear appeal would then use scare tactics to have everyone they seem to look under to follow their directive. So kung yang fear appeal na yan, we don’t have the courage to go over it, they will just implement it without anymore… walang mag-against. It is our job to be against it.” 

Gofredo also pointed out that the country’s poor academic performance is the government’s responsibility, and it should not burden “fear appeal” to its constituents. 

“Dapat ibalik natin sa kanila na huwag niyo kaming i-gaslight. Dahil obligasyon ninyo na sa gobyerno, na tugunan ang krisis sa edukasyon,” she said. 

Repercussions of budget cuts 

Amidst issues regarding the Office of the Vice President’s (OVP) request for 500 million PHP confidential funds, SUCs face a 10 billion budget cut, including the University of the Philippines experiencing a 22.295-M budget cut in the fiscal year 2023.

Gofredo openly expressed her concerns, as the 500 million confidential funds did not reflect the country’s educational facilities. 

“167,000 classrooms ang unfunded. Shifting shifting na lang ang classes. Nganong walay fund ning 167,000 classrooms? Grabe ang confidential funds pero walang budget for basic social services.” 

Aton also gave vital points to discuss the rough opening of face-to-face classes this November. He further classified it with: Kulang sa Classroom, Kulang sa Sahod, Kulang sa Ayuda, and Kulang sa Libro.

Moreover, the proposed UP budget cut can lessen the acceptance percentage for this year’s UPCA takers, Dimalanta explained. 

“In every UPCAT or UPCA, they only accept only 10% of the applicants, so if they would minus 22.8 billion, they’ll already have difficulty in logistics. So, if they would do that, and still implement UPCA, the problem will be not just the applicants, but also the system in which the applicants would use.”

“If it is not quality education, then it is not the education we deserve,” Lao reminded. 

In line with National Students’ Day, the UP Mindanao College of Humanities and Social Sciences (UP CHSS SC) and Kabataan Partylist UP Mindanao Chapter (KP-UPMin) conducted the press conference, “Youth, Unite! Lumahok, Tumindig, Magkaisa at Magpasya para sa Ligtas, Abot-Kaya at De-Kalidad na Edukasyon.”

The conference was held at the UPMin Mini Theatre last November 17, 2022. The event was divided into two parts, the first half being live-streamed on Kabataan Partylist – Southern Mindanao’s Facebook page. 



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