Tuesday, July 23, 2024

[OPINION] Youth Resistance and Academic Spaces

By Novah Jane Dahili | January 23, 2021

In school, students become the best version of themselves. We can explore, discover, and learn out of our comfort zones. We can freely express our thoughts, emotions, and opinions. We are molded to be objective and critical.  Most importantly, we are nurtured to be better— if not the best— citizens of our country. It becomes a safe nurturing space for us. But what happens when fascists intrude on the solidarity and harmony of a progressive safe space?

The Duterte Administration’s back to back failure and never-ending saga of disappointment is not a shocking fact. The 1989 UP-DND Agreement’s termination is a manifestation and proof of intrusion that makes UP and other institutions susceptible to abuses and harms. The protection of UP  that they once had, from tyranny and cruel acts they heavily experienced back in the Marcos regime, is now gone. The Department of Defense believed that the termination of the agreement was deemed completely necessary because for them “ there were a number of UP students identified and recruited as CPP-NPA.” With the termination of the agreement, this allows AFP and PNP to enter the premises without the permission of UP administration. 

If we try to look back, UP has been actively criticizing the incompetence and inhumane acts of the administration; and along with these fights are harassment, abuses, illegal capture, red-tagging and killing of lives. The lives that were mercilessly taken because every critic to this administration is an act of terrorism. It enraged me that exercising one’s right becomes a threat and a criminal act. It angers me that they can easily red tag and kill people without legal basis but just mere assumption without evidence. It saddens me because the people who are bound to protect us are the ones who pull the trigger whenever they feel like it. It scares me because this administration did nothing despite all the cases that were sabotage, nor individuals killed because they mistook them as part of CPP-NPAs. 

DND is tampering with schools’ very essence— to create safe spaces that produce intellectual and skillful citizens.We can only and genuinely achieve this if students are free to exercise freedom of thought and speech. The motive is crystal clear provided that the state has historically launched a series of attacks against activists as an attempt to stop them from pointing out the repetitive and unsolved problems of the society,which can be addressed if the administration is truly serving the interest of the masses. They continue to see the people who stand for and with the masses as threats because these people hinder them from forwarding their self-interests amid the pandemic.

Activism is not a crime. Students, teachers, and non-teaching personnel who rally and fight for our human rights, demand for accountability, and urgency are not terrorists. It is important that we get organized because only through collective action can a dictator be ousted. The collective resistance will further amplify our cause—to end tyranny and eradicate societal issues’ root cause.

This year could not get any worse. From a new year full of hope to a new year full of rage, still we will never be silenced because another day of oppression would mean a stronger resistance and a growing mass movement.


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