By the Liga ng Kabataang Pilipino
We, members and officers of the Liga ng Kabataang Pilipino (League of Filipino Youth or LINKAP) based in the Netherlands, express our alarm and concern over the politically motivated killings, disappearances, persecutions and harassments of members and leaders of youth and student organizations in the Philippines.
In the last five years of Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s presidency, at least 720 were victims of extra-judicial killings. There have been 181 victims of enforced disappearances. From January to August of this year, there have been 133 victims of extrajudicial killings.
Just recently, a fellow youth was shot dead by unidentified motorcycle-riding men on his way to school in Legazpi City, Albay, southeast of Manila. Rei Mon Guran, a 21-year-old political science student and spokesperson of the League of Filipino Students (LFS) in Aquinas University, was one of the three victims of extra-judicial killings happened on July 31 alone.
Beforfe Guran, there was his friend and fellow youth activist Cris Hugo. He was the first youth activist killed after Mrs. Arroyo lifted Proclamation No. 1017 which put the entire Philippines under a state of emergency, practically giving the military and the police additional powers.
Hugo was killed last March 19. He was only 19 years old and a graduating journalism student. He was graduating on journalism, a student leader in Bicol University and regional coordinator for and LFS National Council member. He was instrumental in ending violent feuds between school fraternities and uniting them to fight for student rights
A similar fate befell Pedro Angkon who was killed by two masked motorcycle-riding men in his shop. He was an Anakbayan (Sons and Daughters of the People) organizer in Negros, south of Manila and was 33 years old when he was killed last May 16.
Apart from these killings, there are also youth victims of enforced disappearances. The latest were Sherlyn Cadapan, 29 and Karen Empeño, 23. They were abducted along with Manuel Merino, a peasant organizer, at 2 a.m. on June 30 by more than six armed masked men in Hagonoy, Bulacan. Sherlyn and Karen are members of Anakbayan and the LFS, respectively; while Merino is a volunteer staff member of the Bulacan Farmers Alliance. The three remain missing.
Before Sherlyn and Karen were abducted, 16-year-old Brian Macalisang, also of Anakbayan, was abducted by masked men on April 30 and until now he remains missing. He is the youngest person to have involuntarily disappeared under the Arroyo government.
What do they all have in common? They are all active as organizers or members of militant youth organizations. Both Anakbayan and the LFS are tagged by the military as “enemies of the state.” What have Anakbayan and the LFS done to be branded as such?
As youth who are growing up and living here in the Netherlands, we thought that the government is protecting its people and the remittances sent by our parents go to the improvement of education and basic social services.
But the government is spending 75 percent of the national budget for this year on debt servicing, while 20 percent of it is being spent on the military. Only a month ago, Arroyo issued P1 billion as additional budget for the military’s “counter-insurgency” campaign.
It is very disappointing and frustrating that the government gives more importance to bullets and not schools, classrooms and books.
It is thus no wonder that many students and youth are joining Anakbayan, the LFS and others youth and student organizations which are fighting for better education and improved social services. Their demands are legitimate, the president’s answer to these is not.
The president abolishes the death penalty but indirectly she is permitting her military to continue these killings and disappearances.
This has got to stop.
We encourage all our peace-loving fellow Filipino youth abroad as well as the Dutch youth to call for an immediate stop to these killings and other human rights violations against youth and students’ organizations. We appeal to all youth and students’ organizations in the Netherlands to exert pressure on Mrs. Arroyo’s government to stop these killings and give immediate justice to all the victims and their relatives.
Naxosdreef 93 3562 JC Utrecht, The Netherlands
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