Friday, February 02, 2018

The right to free speech

I wouldn't want to argue with my UP friends over the President's statement of giving the slots of those who joined the walk out to deserving students who wanted to avail of quality education, but for the purpose of just saying my piece just let me post this on my blog. As a young high school student then in Silliman University, I found myself with the League of Filipino Students. I would cut class just to join their activities. I was proud of myself wearing my high school uniform discussing issues in front of college students. Until one professor told me that if I keep on going to the college classrooms, I will never be able to really go into college classrooms for real. Fast forward, I graduated high school, got into some college then went to PMA and the rest is history. Some of my friends in LFS then were eventually captured as members of the NPA, another one is still very much active as a part of Kabataan Partylist, I heard there was a time that he was imprisoned. When Jo Lapira of UP Manila was killed in an encounter in Batangas as a member of the NPA, many students from UP hailed her idealism, her courage to stand for what she believes in, to advance her ideas as an armed combatant against the government. But just like my friends from LFS then, they are either in prison, dead or continue to lead rallies. I seriously doubt if they have actually contributed any good for this country other than espouse their idealism to the ends of the earth. Personally, my involvement with these groups allowed me a better perspective at society. I took up that one week course on Philippine Society and Revolution, went to communities somewhere in Mabinay, met with National Leaders of LFS, received the Kalayaan Newsletter (and religiously burned them after I read it), learned how to play Buhay at Bukid in guitar, idolized Buklod for a while, spray painted some walls in Dumaguete with Mabuhay so and so. I was totally immersed with activism until that professor (he's Sir Gabas by the way) put me in my place, I was never going to college for real if I did not do what i was supposed to do as a student, which is to study. I was reading some comments earlier claiming that they can still pass their subjects because the grading system is not about attendance. But no matter how one argues, one goes to school to learn their field, graduate and be productive members of society. I am not questioning idealism, nor activism, I am merely saying the obvious, something that has been blurred to many of our students in these organizations. It is not by accident that members of these groups end up leaving school and joining the NPA. These groups may deny it to the ends of the earth but all these activities in UP (and other schools) are part of the CPP NPA NDF's IPO (as in Ideological Political Organizational) works to recruit people into the armed group or be leaders for their legal fronts. The student sector with their idealism and capacity to become cadres provide that opportunity. I think the President has been very candid in his dislike on what the students of our state university are doing. He too is expressing his freedom of expression. In a democracy where we enjoy the sacred right to free speech/expression, everyone can criticize each other including a President who will criticize others. But when a certain group cries foul when they are criticized by the President while they burn his effigy and demand his ouster, that is simply being unfair, one sided and wrong. I believe that these rallies should be seen in the context of what is its real intention rather than focusing on it being an exercise of ones right to free speech and expression. The intention of this basic right is on the belief that a society that allows the free flow of ideas is a mechanism to elevate that society for the better. We all have our own idea of what is it that actually "elevates our society for the better" but I am sure that being part of the New People's Army or calling for the ouster of a duly elected President does not elevate our society (may Presidente na ba tayong hindi rinallyhan ng mga grupo na yan na magresign?). I just exercised my right to free speech, I hope this elevates our society.

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