National Youth Commission Chairman Ronald Cardema showed misleading photos of street rallies in a Facebook post Tuesday to justify his proposal of removing the scholarships of “anti-government” students.
Cardema attached four photos of violent street assemblies supposedly to show evidence of his proposal to Duterte on Facebook.
However, these photos are old and it’s also not certain if there were students involved there.
The first two snapshots were incidents of the violent clash between militant groups and anti-riot police during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN Summit in November 2017.
One picture, captured by The Philippine Star photographer Miguel De Guzman, shows a man kicking a law enforcement officer during a rally along the corner of Padre Faura Street and Taft Avenue.
Meanwhile, the latter was a screenshot from a video caught by an eyewitness of another rally along the corner of Mabini Street and U.N. Avenue.
Interaksyon verified based on previous reports that a group did figure with the police here on November 12, 2017.
Thousands of Filipinos mobilized during the week-long ASEAN Summit to protest against the alleged waste of money in hosting the international event. They were also campaigning against the official visit of US President Donald Trump to the Philippines.
The third photo, meanwhile, came from a photo of Associated Press in October 2016 showing the chaos when a local police van in front of the US Embassy in Manila ran over demonstrators.
The fourth photo showed a collage of youth leaders, including Kabataan Party-list Sarah Elago, suspected to be allied with communist rebels. It was labeled: “Ganito nagtatapos ang buhay ng kabataang nalinlang ng CPP-NPA-NDF.”
Part of Cardema’s statement on Facebook read:
“As Chairman of the National Youth Commission, I am requesting our Head of Government, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, to issue an Executive Order removing the government scholarships of all anti-government scholars, specifically those students who are allied with the leftist CPP-NPA-NDF, a terrorist group that is trying to overthrow the Philippine Government and killing our government troops.”
He also reiterated his order to Sangguniang Kabataan officials to report “anti-government” youth leaders to the NYC.
Calls to resign
The National Union of Students of the Philippines denounced the suggestion of Cardema, who was the former leader of right-wing Duterte Youth, as a form of silencing Duterte’s critics.
“The free education program is a product of decades of collective action through lobbying and protests by students and youth. While not being part of those efforts, he now has the gall to recommend that student protesters be disqualified from financial assistance. He is the best youth model of being ‘epal’,” NUSP Deputy Secretary Raoul Manuel said.
Manuel also cited Cardema’s previous blunders as head of the youth commission as sufficient basis for his resignation, which include the red-tagging of legal student organizations and using NYC as a platform of government propaganda.
Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that Cardema has no proof that youth leaders are allied with the communists.
“If there’s evidence to show that it is indeed a front then necessarily we have to do something about it. The state will protect itself from any attack whether superficially, subliminally or actual but we need evidence,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.
“We are government of laws, not of speculations. If that’s only a suspicion, that’s not allowed,” he added.