“These accusations for disqualification from OSG [Office of the Solicitor General] and NTF-ELCAC [National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict] have never fazed Kabataan PL [Partylist]. For over two decades, we will remain to stand true [sic] as the first and only genuine youth representatives throughout the nation,” Kabataan Partylist asserted in an October 19 statement.
This was after the Office of Solicitor General led by Jose Calida filed a case in the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) last June 2021, in an attempt to cancel the registration of KPL’s candidates. Last October 19 being the date set for the pre-marking of NTF-ELCAC’s “evidence.”
“Because the state fears critical and proactive youth, it seeks to narrow the available democratic spaces for young people and other marginalized sectors by discrediting them through red-tagging. […] The trumped-up case is the most recent attempt to harass Filipino youth who forward progressive policies even if it means banging heads with people in power,” KPL said in their Change.org petition page.
In an interview with the Perspective, KPL Southern Tagalog Regional Coordinator and KPL’s fourth nominee in the House of Representatives Jianred Faustino said that NTF-ELCAC accuses the said partylist in the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army – National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF). Faustino recalled that NTF-ELCAC branded KPL as a “funnel to a terrorist organization.”
“Ang parehong mga akusasyon ay ginamit na sa dating mga kaso na isinampa ng mga ahente ng estado sa Kabataan PL. Parehong kaso ay binasura rin kapwa ng Department of Justice [DOJ] at ng Supreme Court dahil sa kawalan ng probable cause at ebidensya,” Faustino claimed.
[The cases filed by the state agents were the same accusations that they used before against Kabataan PL. These cases were already junked by the DOJ and Supreme Court because of lack of probable cause and evidence.]
With the first hearing on the said case to be held on November 5 (originally scheduled last October 19), KPL called for continued support for their petition against NTF-ELCAC’s case, which has now received 4,181 signatures.
“While genuine partylists are targets of state attacks, fake partylists operated and funded through taxpayer money by President Duterte’s NTF-ELCAC are aiming to infiltrate the legislative branch of government and amplify their relentless red-tagging campaign. […] Creating fake partylists is a way for the Duterte regime to implant more puppets in Congress and hold tighter to power amid raging calls for accountability for its failed pandemic response, anti-poor policies, human rights violations, massive corruption schemes, and treasonous rule,” the partylist continued.
Amidst continued attacks
KPL was repeatedly red-tagged for being vocal on national issues. Despite the accusations, the partylist continued to forward the calls to defend genuine youth representation, to keep NTF-ELCAC out of congress, and to uphold a free and fair election.
“Hindi [na] bago ang atake sa Kabataan Partylist at sa iba pang mga progresibong grupo, malinaw na hindi tinutugunan ng rehimeng Duterte ang hinaing ng taumbayan na siyang nagiging hadlang sa interes ni Duterte at mga alipores nito. Takot at pilit na ikinukubli ang masangsang at bulok na sistema ng kaniyang rehimen kung kaya’t sa mga kritikal at makabayan na partylists nito ibinabaling ang mga bigong pangako nito sa taumbayan.” they added.
[The attacks against Kabataan PL and other progressive groups are not new; it is clear that the Duterte regime does not respond to the calls of the masses because it will hinder the interests of Duterte and his cronies. They forcibly hide the pungent and rotten system of his regime; he turns his head to critical and patriotic partylists.]
Elaborating that Gabriela Women’s Party also faced attacks from the state, Faustino slammed how campaigns against legitimate partylists such as KPL are being prioritized over ones against the likes of Duterte Youth.
“A cancellation case against the fake partylist Duterte Youth was filed in 2019 but until now it has yet to see any progress. The petition against Kabataan was only filed in June and clearly we are seeing how NTF-ELCAC is fast tracking the case in order to disqualify KPL and other progressives before the 2022 National Elections.
The partylist also added the call to rechannel the P30 billion fund of NTF-ELCAC for education and social services.
Last April 2021 in Batangas, it was reported that about P30 billion worth of NTF-ELCAC funds was utilized as a “reward” for an individual who will be involved in the “communist witch-hunting” act in 11 barangays of the province, following the Bloody Sunday attacks. Progressive groups like Panday Sining-Batangas condemned the said incident and asked instead to use money as financial aids for COVID-19 reliefs. (READ: Sa halip na ilaan sa kalusugan, DILG, NTF-ELCAC, nagbigay ng pabuya ng P20 milyon kada barangay para sa ‘peace, order’)
Following the disqualification complaint, Faustino confirmed that there will be an ongoing petition calling to junk the allegations filed by NTF-ELCAC. She also said that they will provide more time in campaigning the interest of Filipino youth such as calling for Ligtas Na Balik Eskwela, P10,000 student aid, and a safe school reopening bill that was already filed by Cong. Sarah Elago.
“The government clearly fears the influence of the progressives. We have been the most vocal in terms of criticizing their leadership. This move against Kabataan is just a manifestation of their fear in the strength and capability of the youth together with the other sectors,” she added.
In the service of the youth
On the importance of youth empowerment and genuine youth representation, Faustino explained that only one out of every three Filipinos are part of the youth (legally speaking, citizens within the age range of 15 to 30 years).
“Kita natin mula diyan na napakabata ng populasyon ng Pilipinas, thus more so kaya kailangan natin ng genuine youth representation sa Congress na may track record for proposing bills that ensures the welfare of our sector,” Faustino said.
[We can see that the Filipino population is young, which is why we need genuine youth representation in Congress. Ones that have a track record for proposing bills that ensures the welfare of our sector.]
She added that in the forthcoming national elections, 25 million out of the 62 million voters are part of the youth.
“Ganyan karami ang kabataan na boboto sa 2022. Kaya napaka importante ng pakikiinvolve natin sa mga societal issues ng Pilipinas. Hindi porket kabataan pa lang tayo ay hindi tayo pwede magkaron ng opinion sa mga nangyayari kase sa dulo, tayo pa din ang magmamana ng kinabukasan ng Pilipinas. Kaya ngayon pa lang importante ang pakakilahok na tayo sa mga diskusyon, sa Kongreso man yan o sa kalsada,” faustino said.
[That’s how many members of the youth will vote this 2022. This is why it is important for us to be involved in societal issues in the Philippines. It does not mean that because we are still young we will not have any thoughts on what is happening. It is important for us to get involved in discussions today, either in Congress or in the streets.]
Throughout KPL’s three terms, among their legislative achievements include a progressive educational curriculum, environmental protection, and even bills such as the Free Public Wifi Act and house resolutions that addresses cybercrime law and resolve waste problems in the country.
Amidst the struggle brought by COVID-19 pandemic, youth representatives continue to call for various demands that uphold the student’s democratic rights in education, such as safe return to schools.
In preparation for the November 5 hearing, Faustino called to continuing the calls for #LigtasNaBalikEskwela and #10kStudentAid, as well as the recently proposed Safe Schools Reopening Bill. All of these while moving to “defend genuine youth representation, expose state sponsored partylists, and call for the abolishment of state forces such as NTF-ELCAC.”
(RELATED STORIES: Youth groups hold online press conference to discuss demands amidst worsening education situation, UPLB USC reiterates demand for #LigtasNaBalikEskwela, calls for class postponement, vaccine plans)
“In [these] pre-election months, there will be a lot of opinions circling around, however, amidst all this we must remain steadfast in our one true goal: to stop the Duterte-Marcos leadership,” Faustino urged. [P]
Photo from Kabataan Partylist / Facebook
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