MEMBERS of militant youth and student groups staged a lighting rally in front of the main gate of Camp Edilberto Evangelista in Barangay Patag, Cagayan de Oro City, on Friday, December 8, at the headquarters of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division.
Bearing placards, the militants called for a halt to the "intensifying attacks of the Duterte administration on the people."
Led by the League of the Filipino Students (LFS) and Anakbayan in Northern Mindanao, the militants’ also accused the military of being "terrorists" for supposedly mounting military operations in the countrysides that have led to displacement of rural folk.
The group also sprayed painted anti-government slogans on the road leading to the Army camp.
Kristine Cabardo, LFS chairperson for Northern Mindanao, said the group cannot sit idly while the government supposedly engages in military operations against the people.
"The youth will no longer sit idly as Lumad communities flee their homes due to massive militarization, leaders of progressive organizations are slapped with trumped up charges, and uncertainty and injustice looms over the victims of the Marawi crisis especially the Meranaws," Cabardo said.
Cabardo said the termination of peace talks, the order to arrest National Democratic Front of the Philippines(NDFP) peace consultants and declaring the New People's Army (NPA) as a terrorist organization, all directed by the president, will lead to an all-out war against the people, especially the poor.
Cabardo also said that the cancellation of peace negotiation delays the discussion in addressing the root causes of the decades-old armed struggle including socio-economic issues such as genuine land reform and national industrialization which are the most integral part of the talks.
The youth leader slammed President Rodrigo Duterte for his allegiance to the ruling class instead of standing up for the people who have supported him and his then progressive pronouncements.
Cabardo explained that for international human rights week, she said: "Duterte failed to show even the slightest compassion as more than 400 political prisoners-some sick and elderly- are still detained, the military denies entry of food in Lumad evacuation camps, 'Oplan Kapayapaan', a replica of US counterinsurgency programs, intensifies with over 70 percent of the AFP deployed in Mindanao, and the bloody drug war, which has killed over 13,000 people has returned under the operations of the Philippine National Police (PNP)."
"If the youth does not act now, there will be no one left to speak out for the people. It is now, more than ever that we need to take up the historical task of the youth of staying at the forefront in the struggle for genuine democracy, a struggle for building a new society," Cabardo said.
"Duterte's rule is one that promotes tyranny and dictatorship and essentially denying the people of their democratic space-every critic in this administration either dies or is imprisoned for speaking up-and the youth as the voice of the future cannot let the fascist rule to continue," Cabardo added.
Major General Ronald Villanueva, 4ID commander, is urging the parents of the students who joined the lightning rally to look after their children and ensure they are in school and learning good values to become better citizens.
Villanueva is asking the parents to check the activities and whereabouts of their children and prevent them from being deceived and be used by any person or group.
"Today is Friday and these young misguided children should be at school right now learning about good values as well as how to be productive and successful person someday," Villanueva said.
"As parents, we all dream of seeing our children reaching their dreams and living a peaceful life. Let us not allow other people to plant seed of hatred to our children instead we nurture them to be a good sons and daughters in our home and a good citizen to our country," Villanueva added.