PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday, February 20, said he was amenable to the proposal of the National Youth Commission (NYC) to revoke scholarships of students who "espouse the destruction of the duly-constituted government."
Duterte made the remark when sought for reaction to NYC chairperson Ronald Gian Carlo Cardema's call on the President to withdraw the scholarships of "anti-government" students.
"If you espouse to overthrow the government, then you are committing a crime of rebellion. If they espouse the very government feeding food on their mouth, they will lose that [scholarship]," the President said.
Cardema on Tuesday, February 19, urged Duterte to sign an executive order removing the scholarships of students who have links to the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People's Army (NPA), and the National Democratic Front.
Duterte said students who have ties with the communist movement are considered "enemies" of the state.
He added that student activists who are part of destabilization plot against the government would not only lose their scholarships but would also face arrest.
"If you espouse, I said, support the NPAs, espouse the destruction of government, I will consider you an enemy," he said.
"And when the time comes, I will arrest all of them and they will lose everything that government has offered them," Duterte added.
Earlier Wednesday, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said students merely "suspected" of being against the Duterte government cannot be stripped of state scholarships.
Panelo stressed that removing students' scholarship can only be done if there is "concrete, legal, and reasonable" basis.
Duterte clarified that those who are merely expressing dissent to his policies could not be considered a reason to revoke the government scholarships of students.
"Well, those are just expression. I need more overt acts," he said, when asked if joining anti-government protests is a sufficient ground to remove students' scholarship.
"Wala naman kung dissent lang (It's nothing if it's just a dissent). If you disagree with my move, you disagree or you are not in -- you do not find consonance in our decision. But if you go and say, 'Let us go out, join the NPAs, support the NPAs, give food to the NPAs, money to the NPAs,' then you espouse the destruction of the duly-constituted government," he added. (SunStar Philippines)