Again, who is afraid of the Filipino youth?

In my statement last November 30, 2020 for the 56th founding anniversary of the Kabataang Makabayan and birth anniversary of Gat Andres Bonifacio, “Who is afraid of the Filipino youth?” , I highlighted the youth’s crucial role in society and mark in history as exemplary leaders and members of the Philippine revolution and the revolutionary army.

History has proven time and again that the Filipino youth, once awakened to the realities of social exploitation and oppression, subsequently side and volunteer to fight for the interests of the people through social revolution to regain our genuine sovereignty and national democracy. History has also proven that in all successful social revolutions worldwide, the awakened youth were at the forefront and acted as reliable allies of the peasant and working classes, along with the middle classes, in the fight for national liberation and democracy.

From Spanish colonialism to American imperialism, from Marcos’ fascist dictatorship and to the present US-Duterte regime, the youth have borne the brunt of state suppression and repression by the reactionary government whose main aim is to mold them into unthinking, uncritical robots and submissive social agents of the rotten status quo. Those who discourage the youth from “being involved”, who accuse them of simply being naive and therefore easily “brainwashed by terrorists” and those who claim that the “revolution is a lost cause” are the very ones who are so afraid of them.

Case in point, DND Sec. Lorenzana’s recent move to abrogate the 1989 University of the Philippines-Department of Defense (UP-DND) Accord further embodies this regime’s irrepressible fear. Talagang takot na takot na ang rehimeng US-Duterte sa kabataang Pilipino.

The regime failed to quell dissent and intimidate the youth in the so-called Red October plot in 2018 (which also initially targetted schools and universities) and instead saw the continuous snow-balling of youth protests and defiance despite the militarization of the bureaucracy through the establishment of the National Task Force to End Local Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), the imposed Covid-19 military lockdowns and the enactment of the Marcosian Anti-Terrorism Act. If anything, this recent move by Duterte’s alter ego Lorenzana should be viewed as a sign of a regime on the brink of a nervous breakdown brought on by a debilitating fear of the youth performing and fulfilling its revolutionary task and tradition. That it now resorts to an unapologetic and manic bastardization of the youth’s basic rights to academic freedom, freedom of speech and freedom of expression further proves that it is being driven by fear and desperation to prevent an awakened Filipino youth from derailing Duterte and his military junta’s unbridled ambition to cling to power.

Moreover, Lorenzana’s unilateral abrogation of the UP-DND Accord attempts to once again misrepresent history and take away from the youth and the people significant victories they have achieved against the Marcos fascist dictatorship. Not one democracy-loving citizen believes that it is intended to supposedly “protect” the true interest and welfare of the youth from so-called “communist recruitment and infiltration”. Youth and students are correct to protest vehemently against the abrogation because it will only serve to set a precedent for intensified curtailment of their democratic rights and the further institutionalization of state fascism in campuses not only in UP but nationwide.

The US-Duterte regime is portraying the youth as naive “victims” when, in truth, their inherent curiosity, openness to new ideas, aggressiveness and vigor and readiness to rise up to the need for revolutionary change make them a conscious social force that forms part of the masses in the making of history. They are by far much, much wiser and more responsible than the idiots Duterte, Lorenzana, Parlade and their ilk who are so stupid that they refuse to accept and realize that the youth will always be sensitive to social ills and injustices and will always search for ways to change these, even if it means offering their very own lives to the noble cause of the armed revolution.

Huwag nilang palabasing mga mangmang na walang sariling kapasyahan at pag-iisip ang mga kabataan. Hindi sila mga robot lang na sunud-sunuran at lalong hindi istupido. No amount of intimidation and demonization can stop the youth from joining the revolution, and particularly the NPA, dahil ‘di hamak na mas matatalino sila kaysa sa nagdudunong-dunungang si Duterte at kanyang mga utak-pulburang heneral.

This is the main reason why the cream of the crop iskolars ng bayan are attracted to the revolutionary cause. This is the main reason why many of the outstanding students from UP and other premier universities voluntarily join the New People’s Army (NPA) and are not enticed by the P40,000-monthly basic salary of the reactionary armed forces as bribe to serve the interests of the fascist regime. They are capable of intelligently discerning, through concrete and critical analysis of history and society, that only through revolution can genuine social change be achieved. They have the wisdom, courage and resolve to devote their intelligence, aggressiveness, militancy and very lives to the revolution.

And this is also the main reason why they are being killed by the mercenary military and reactionary regime who are so very afraid of their actual and potential ability to lead the NPA and the Philippine revolution.

The deaths of young NPA martyrs from UP and other universities, iskolars ng bayan-turned-mga bayani ng sambayanan, is not tragedy but a legacy that all Filipino youth should honor and be proud of. Contrary to what the US-Duterte regime wants to portray, their lives were not wasted. By joining the NPA, they have genuinely served the country and became real martyrs and heroes worthy of respect and emulation. They continue to be an inspiration to the youth and the people, especially the masses whom they served to their last breaths. Youth and student leaders who joined the armed struggle during Marcos’ martial law – Lorena Barros, Edgar Jopson, Emmanuel Lacaba, Romulo Jallores, Bobby dela Paz, Johnny Escandor, Ben Esparagoza, to name a few – remain an inspiration to many other iskolars ng bayan who joined the NPA during their time.

But the best and the brightest from premier universities are not just dead heroes and martyrs. Majority of them are still very much in the thick of the revolutionary struggle, leading the NPA and the armed revolution. They now serve as Red commanders and political officers in the NPA who have led numerous successful tactical offensives against mercenary fascist troops. Students and intellectuals who joined the NPA continue to contribute greatly, together with the peasant and worker comrades, in conducting social investigation of the problems of the masses and how to solve them. Their help remains invaluable in the launching of genuine land reform and other mass campaigns such as agricultural production, literacy and education, medical, cultural and others.

They have truly become the cream of the crop Party leaders and cadres who continue to lead the NPA, mass organizations and other territorial committees both in the countryside and in the urban areas. The US-Duterte regime depicts them as “wasted youth” and “college dropouts” when in fact they have become genuine iskolars ng bayan for opting to transform academic theory into social practice and continue their education out of the confines of the university by humbly learning from the masses in the course of the revolutionary struggle for social emancipation. They may have excelled in UP and other premier universities but they now shine even more brightly among their comrades-in-arms and the masses of the people. Their contributions to the advancement of the revolution and selfless service to the people are precisely what the US-Duterte regime is desperate to conceal from the public and demonize through the reactionary state’s propaganda machinery and controlled mass media.

They may not have graduated with academic honors but they now don medals as champions of the masses. They did not become military or police colonels or generals but are now seasoned military tacticians and field commanders of the NPA. They did not go on to become corporate lawyers, private doctors, engineers or high-earning professionals but they are now the masses’ much-loved and respected teachers, doctors and nurses, engineers, agriculturists, writers and cultural workers. Some of them are also immersed among workers and in urban poor communities, doing much-needed social work and welfare projects and raising the masses’ struggle in the service and interest of workers and the urban poor population.

Hence, UP and other higher learning institutions that continue to be instrumental in inculcating critical-thinking and a strong sense of nationalism, patriotism and sympathy for the poor among the youth should not be blamed for their decision to join the armed revolution. Unlike the US-Duterte regime, these learning institutions do not treat the youth as mere remote-controlled robots and submissive social agents of the reactionary system. These schools and universities should be encouraged to continue to stand for academic freedom and democratic rights of the youth. They should be commended for refusing to back down despite the US-Duterte regime’s harassment, red-tagging and arm-twisting.

Lorenzana has the gall to demand an “explanation” from UP of why many of its students have joined the NPA when it is the US-Duterte regime’s repression of the youth and social exploitation that has resulted in the growth and strength of the youth and student movement. Further, Duterterrorism continues to drive youths from across sectors and parties to launch all forms of resistance against this regime. It has roused more youths to defy and fight fascism and state terrorism and wage armed and unarmed resistance. None other than the US-Duterte regime has brought the youth more closer to the armed revolution and the NPA, to support and directly participate in the revolutionary struggle for national and social liberation.

Ibinabaling ni Lorenzana ang sisi sa UP gayong hindi naman ang UP ang nag-udyok sa mga estudyante nito na magrebolusyon kundi ang mapagsamantala at mapanupil na sistemang pinapairal at pinagsisilbihan ni Duterte, Lorenzana at buong militar. Ang militar naman ang mismong pumapatay sa ating mga magigiting na kabataan upang supilin ang pagnanais at pakikibaka nila para sa panlipunang pagbababago.

This month, we celebrate and commemorate the anniversaries of two historic events in which the Filipino youth have been at the forefront as lead propagandists, opinion-makers and active organizers: the First Quarter Storm on January 26 and the EDSA II Uprising on January 21. The FQS was later used as one of the main reasons and excuse by Marcos to declare martial law to openly suppress the youth and people’s dissent and aspiration for genuine social change. But instead, the FQS invigorated and spread revolutionary fervor throughout the country that inspired young revolutionaries from the ranks of workers, peasants, students, intellectuals and professionals to join the masses in the countryside in waging armed struggle against imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism.

The EDSA II Uprising, meanwhile, ousted the US-Estrada regime and resulted in a fresh batch of iskolars ng bayan and intellectuals who joined the NPA. Like their FQS predecessors, they are now part of the leading cadres of the armed revolution and likewise serve as an inspiration to the present exodus of young people that have also joined the NPA since Duterte took office and exposed himself as a fascist terrorist.

Yes, the US-Duterte regime is indeed very afraid of the Filipino youth. The choice to join the NPA and the revolution remains a lifetime decision that the youth of today is called upon to make. A revolutionary upsurge among the youth is in the offing, one that the US-Duterte regime knows is a very potent threat to its greedy ambition to cling to power .

As we shouted during FQS, “Sagot sa martial law, digmang bayan!”, so does our youth chant now, “Sagot sa Duterterorismo, digmang bayan!”, “Duterterorista, patalsikin, ngayon na!”, “Kabataan, paglingkuran ang sambayanan, sumapi sa Bagong Hukbong Bayan!” ###

Again, who is afraid of the Filipino youth?