A Manifesto by Youth Act Now Against Tyranny

We, student councils, student publications, youth formations and individuals under Youth Act Now Against Tyranny, stand united to counter the increasing fascism and the tyrannical, militarist rule of the Duterte government.

Since last year, President Duterte has waged three wars against the Filipino people under the banner of promoting peace and order in the country. Primarily, he unleashed police and police-backed death squads in a brutal and murderous “war on drugs” that has victimized thousands of mostly poor, small-time drug users and pushers. Not less than 12,000 citizens have already been killed in the name of the anti-drug campaign. Public outrage peaked when fellow student and youth, Kian Loyd Delos Santos, was mercilessly gunned down by police officers in Caloocan City.

Second, in his rush to end armed conflicts with the BangsaMoro and the CPP-NPA-NDFP and with the maneuvers of the imperialist US government, he has imposed Martial Law and suspended the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao. He has unleashed the full might of the military to bomb civilian communities, causing over a thousand civilian deaths, massive destruction of property and loss of livelihood in Marawi City and the rest of Mindanao. Around 400,000 people have already fled from their own communities for safety, while Lumad schools built by the national minorities themselves have closed due to intense military occupation and threats by Duterte to bomb the schools.

Lastly, upon declaring all-out war against the people, state forces have been on the loose to threaten, kill and illegally arrest those he considers as “enemies of the state”. His regime has continued the practice of filing trumped-up charges against activists and government critics, thus accumulating political prisoners. He continues to incite state security forces to commit willful violence against the people while assuring them of protection from investigation, prosecution and punishment.

Instead of concretely addressing the demands of the Filipino people and discussing the socio-economic roots of armed conflict through the peace talks, President Duterte has employed a combination of palliative reforms and fascist schemes to hide the inability of the ruling system to free the people from poverty, joblessness and landlessness.

For instance, the victory of the students and youth to unite their ranks and press the government to provide free education is being claimed by Duterte as his with the signing of the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Bill into law. While such act of the President intends to paint a pro-people façade on his regime, neoliberal agents in his government are scrambling in their attempts to narrow down the beneficiaries of free education and secure the profits of school owners through voucher and loan programs.

In line with the dictates of US-IMF-WB, his regime drives the educational system further down the trail of neoliberal policies such as the K-12 program, and does not seek to end the longstanding ill in the Philippine educational system. Millions to billions are being amassed by capitalist educators from their students, who become part of the pool of cheap, docile and semi-skilled labor being made ready for export.

To maintain the current orientation of our educational system and suppress dissent in campuses, the government has orchestrated the creeping in of repressive policies to schools. Mandatory drug testing at all levels have been sanctioned by DepEd and CHED, thereby extending Duterte’s war on drugs to schools and further subjecting the youth to vulnerability as targets of such deadly war. Also, proposals to bring back mandatory ROTC in schools are being pushed in Congress to facilitate militarization of our campuses and to expose student leaders and progressive organizations to surveillance, red-tagging and harassment by state elements.

IN THESE CRUCIAL TIMES, IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT WE, STUDENTS AND YOUTH, BECOME PART OF HISTORY BY TAKING A STAND, SPEAKING OUT, AND JOINING THE FIGHT OF THE BROAD MASSES.

We demand an end to extra-judicial killings and mass murder in the name of the Duterte regime’s “war on drugs” and “war on terror.”

We demand a stop to aerial bombings, artillery fire and other destructive military operations that target civilian communities, especially residences, schools, farms and commercial/business establishments.

We say no to Martial Law in Mindanao and its expansion to cover the whole country. We seek justice for victims of human rights violations and the end of militarization of communities, especially those of the national minorities.

We oppose the filing of trumped-up cases, the unjust arrest and detention of critics, activists and those unjustly labelled as “enemies of the state”. We call for the release of all political prisoners.

We decry the use of fascist tools to suppress the democratic rights of the youth. We vow to oppose mandatory drug testing and mandatory ROTC in schools, colleges and universities.

We will uphold the right of the people to organize, assemble and mobilize for the attainment of just demands, including free education, land, livelihood, and basic social services. We shall denounce efforts to pacify or smash the people’s movement for genuine social change.

To this end, we declare September 21 as a national day of action, on which we will show the collective strength of the youth along with other sectors in society as we defend human rights and promote just peace in the country.

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