“We will not allow today’s generation of young Filipinos to endure the harsh realities of military rule and be robbed of freedom, democracy and basic human rights which our parents and predecessors have fought and died for more than twenty years ago.
This was the statement of Youth Demanding Arroyo’s Removal (Youth-Dare) spokesman Raymond Palatino in a press conference last February 26 at the University of the Philippines in Diliman.
Palatino condemned the recent spate of warrantless arrests including the arbitrary seizure of Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran and the attempt to takeover the Daily Tribune and other media outfits critical of the Arroyo administration, saying Presidential Proclamation no. 1017 and General Order no. 5 are nothing short of transforming the country into a police state, this time under a one-woman rule.
“A person does not need to be a political analyst or lawyer to know that Malacanang’s recent pronouncements and the actions undertaken by the Philippine National Police (PNP) are conspicuously similar to the moves done by the late dictator. Martial law is already in place, now under a new name and with a more ‘refined’ version, yet equally brutal,” he said.
Palatino also hit the presence of police and military elements in known hotbeds of student activism in Metro Manila and called for their immediate pullout in schools.
He said the group received reports from the Office of the Student Regent of the two state universities and its respective student councils that SWAT and other intelligence operatives were immediately deployed inside UP Diliman and the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) in Sta. Mesa soon after Arroyo’s proclamation of the state of national emergency.
“Are they going to arrest student council officers too? Are they also going to shut down student publications critical of the Arroyo administration? The presence of police and military operatives inside campuses places the lives of student leaders and editors and the operation of the institutions they represent in danger. Moreover, it creates a condition of fear and panic among students and the academe,” he pointed out.
Meanwhile, Palatino urged students to wear black on Monday or place black cloth or ribbons in their campuses as an expression of grief over ‘democracy’s death’ and as a sign of defiance against the Arroyo administration.
He added that Yotuh-Dare and its member organizations are planning to hold a synchronized noise barrage and protest actions in university consortiums in Metro Manila next week in defiance of Arroyo’s proclamation 1017.
“We call on all freedom-loving young Filipinos stand firm continue to be in the forefront of the struggle for truth, justice and good governance. No amount of intimidation or threat of force can keep us from calling for Arroyo’s removal.”