Cong Corrales .
I WAS looking at my notes for a second part on “brainwashing” when this press release came in my e-mail inbox. It may have started in a Manila-located state university — the Polytechnic University of the Philippines — but make no mistake, this witch hunt of this administration against the youth sets a dangerous precedent.
Here in Northern Mindanao, police regional director Brig. Gen. Rafael Santiago is quick to dance to the tune despite his hefty disposition. He has ordered his officers to spy on schools to supposedly keep the “recruiters” of the Maoist New People’s Army at bay.
Let me remind the President that it would do him well if he keeps off the future of this Republic. This is the last sector in the society he should be constricting and repressing because as our contemporary history teaches us, this kind of witch hunt doesn’t sit well with critical thinking and enlightened youth.
Let me remind him further that I agree to a line in his most recent coherent and sane speech, that the “we are our worst enemy.” I suggest he take a look at a mirror because he has become the biggest enemy to himself and to this Republic.
Here’s the full text of the press release from Shara Mae Landicho and Sean Thakur. Please do read on.
“Student activists of Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (Spark) denounced the mandatory drug testing held at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP). They say that drug tests placed hundreds of students in the crosshairs of the state-sponsored death squads.
“They cautioned policymakers and implementors that they may be held accountable for excesses and atrocities committed during and after the tests.
“The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Thursday reported that they administered eight hundred drug tests to out of the more than thirty-five thousand students of the state university in its Sta. Mesa campus.
“The group claimed that the exercise was ‘a major cause of worry for the youth are equally placed in peril between the law enforcers and peddlers of illegal substances’’considering the larger context where the Duterte administration has been waging an unsuccessful and bloody war on drugs since ascending to power in 2016.
“Spark warned that student bodies across the country will not hesitate to hold the Commission on Higher Education (Ched), PUP president Emmanuel de Guzman and the PNP accountable ‘if even a single drop of blood of a PUP student is spilled’ in police operations following the tests.
“‘The government must immediately cease promoting a discriminatory, stigmatizing and skewed approach to solving the drug problem. This, on top of their bloodied credentials and their present fixation, to intrude in campus affairs,’ said Spark spokesperson, Shara Mae Landicho.
“Landicho averred that drug tests are not in line with the supposed objective of drug prevention but the promotion of a healthy lifestyle but the persecution of its victims.
“PNP reports that they have tallied six thousand six hundred sixty drug-related deaths from July 2016 to June 2019 or eighteen deaths a month. In December last year, Commission on Human Rights chairperson Chito Gascon estimates that the death toll could be as high as twenty-seven thousand.
“For Sean Thakur, chairperson of the University Student Council of the University of the Philippines Diliman, ‘Three years has passed since Oplan Tokhang was unleashed and no less than the president has already admitted that their approach has failed to curb the drug menace and now they seek to spread the bloody frenzy within academic institutions.
“He adds that enforced through the Ched Memorandum 18, the mandatory drug testing in universities ‘only legitimizes such police operations in campuses and threaten institutions that should always exhibit academic freedom.’
“The activists insist that for as long as the conditions of poverty, inequality and corruption among law enforcers persists, illegal drugs will be an enticing option economically and psychologically.
“Policymakers and the police are looking in the opposite direction. They shall find more success if they genuinely address social, structural injustices and quit being utak-pulbura (having a violent mindset), he adds.
“The group called likewise called on the parents of PUP students to add their voices to the opposition to the mandatory drug tests policy.”