Posted this statement of SDK which was presented in a forum last 2006 commemoration of the First Quarter Storm. I think it is relevant today. Enjoy reading!!!!

Making the FQS struggle worth rekindling

They swarmed the streets with their chants for democracy as weapons. They flocked the streets, hundreds of thousands of them, with collective voices and forces to batter the worsening leadership of the then President Ferdinand Marcos. They fought. They battled. And they continue to inspire current struggles of our times.

The First Quarter Storm (FQS), was what they called and named this historic mark in the era of the Marcos Regime. The time when students and the youth, weary about the kind of government perpetuated by Marcos, and asking endless ‘whys’ of roots of poverty, partiality, injustice and inhumane treatment to the masses, were organized and mobilized for one common reason – end the reasons of bloating suppression and ill governance.

The presence and meddling of US bases in the Philippines and the government’s support for the Vietnam War were among the issues that they raised. But above all, the glaring situation of the country’s political and economic turmoil was their principal battleground.
Months when the FQS flourished was notable on Jan. 26, 1970, when Marcos delivers his State of the Nation Address at the opening of Congress. Activists carrying a mock coffin and a cardboard crocodile, expressing their dissent over the ills of the current system, welcomed Marcos as he surfaced outside the Congress building. This signaled the beginning of the First Quarter Storm.
The next four days, the activists staged a rally at Mendiola, and emerged to lay a seige in Malacañang. Facing troops of anti-riot police, they tried to push through with a fire truck, which served as a battering ram at the Gate 4 of the Palace, and scuffled against the police throughout that night. By morning, four of their comrades were dead, all students.
As they bludgeoned a feat of putting an end to a regime that showed no care for the masses, their lives were at stake. But as they invested on lashing out the dictatorship, we, among ourselves, in the youth of today, are left with a big challenge – continuing their struggle towards genuine change.

Yes, the FQS alone did not suffice in ending the dictatorship, for the democracy that the EDSA People Power is, up to now, shady and deceptive in character. But this is what should oblige us in posing ourselves this challenge that they left us.

The sorry state of the “democracy” that was projected to us by the current elite rule, this time with Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as the main perpetrator, has become reason enough for the youth and students in pursuing the struggle. We are far off from the dictatorship that covered the past with darkness, but we are blinded by Arroyo’s trapo politics that levels the same with that of Marcos’ cruelty and injustice. Arroyo covers the worsening poverty with the masks of so-called “economic progress,” claiming the hardwork of OFWs as real reasons of such economic strength. Arroyo, just like Marcos, refuses to side with the toiling masses by broken promises of poverty alleviation through increase of wages, more housing projects and the likes. Marcos and Arroyo both advocate for Charter Change under their ill regimes. Worst among all facts is that both rulers do all these for the preservation of elite rule in our country.

Privy and aware of this kind of system, all of us should feel the need to reinvigorate the struggle for genuine change in our society. Clutching our fists hard in rage without action is futile. The second propaganda movement that the FQS sowed against tyranny must be reawakened from the kind of system that still emanates in our government and society today.

Let us not close our eyes and lose hope that attesting this challenge might fail. The legacy of the FQS will continue to live on, but on the veins of the new blood that now springs from us, the youth of today. Let us make their struggle worth rekindling.

 

Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan

January 30, 2006

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JUNE 2008

Unmasking the real face of Philippine education

 Just a few days before the opening of classes, Gloria Arroyo personally imposed two policies in which she brags as “pro-student” and “pro-education.” One is the moratorium on tuition increase in state colleges and universities (SUC) and another is the so-called “Brigada Eskwela,” wherein the Department of Education (DepEd), together with local government units, will lead massive physical renovations in public secondary and elementary school buildings.

These, as the government asserts, are measures undertaken to serve the interest of the poor youth and students. There is no doubt that such measures are really needed, for it is the government’s obligation to strengthen the country’s education sector as well as to ensure that education is accessible to all. However, is it safe to say that the abovementioned measures of Arroyo are enough to significantly strengthen our country’s education?

 

No holds barred

Despite the imposed moratorium on tuition hike among SUCs, there are still 378 private universities and colleges (PUC) which raised tuition by as much as ten percent for this year, according to the Commission on Higher Education (CHED). This happened in spite of Arroyo’s plea to PUCs not to increase tuition. However, according to Gonzalo Duque, president of the Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities, Arroyo “gave private educators the go-ahead (signal) to lift the rate cap on tuition… only after consultations with students and their parents.”

Furthermore, the TFI moratorium order of Arroyo is a clear case of “too late the hero,” as it did not prevent the infamous 300 % tuition increase in the University of the Philippines (UP)—the country’s premier state university. This increase amounted to an average fee of P1, 000 per unit or P20, 000 per semester if enrolled with 18 units in UP. This caused an adverse effect in freshmen enrolment in UP, as 27 % of freshmen qualifiers in 2007 came from public general high schools compared to their counterparts from private schools, which amounted to 49 %. With UP’s humongous tuition and its effect, it has defeated its purpose as being the university that will primarily cater the poor yet deserving students.

Other SUCs have likewise followed suit with UP, and Arroyo’s TFI moratorium order was too late to prevent this from coming. One unreported example of this is the new hundred percent increase in the Technological University of the Philippines , with a freshman enrollee paying P6, 575 for 21 units compared to more than P 3, 500 from last year. Moreover, the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) started to collect a “development fee” of P225 to the current batch of freshmen.

With these, it is clear that even SUCs are not spared from the growing trend of tuition increase, and if this trend will not be halted by the government, the lesser the chance for poor students to pursue tertiary education.

Continuous decline

Another problem in the education sector that Arroyo disregarded is the decline of student attendance in the public primary and secondary schools, which amounted nearly 14 % in 2007. In the primary level, 83% attended school regularly compared to 97 % last year while a mere 58 % was tallied in the high school. Another glaring statistic is that out of 2.23 six to seven year old kids in the country, 1.02 million make it to school—a huge 1.21 million difference, making it one in-school Filipino child for every two out-of-school children. According to DepEd Undersecretary Ramon Bacani, poverty and high cost of education are the main reasons of this decline.

Way below

Aside from widespread poverty amongst Filipino youths, government negligence and lack of political will are the reasons why Philippine education has gone from worse to worst.

The most glaring example of the Arroyo government’s negligence on education is the minute 2.26 % government spending on education from the country’s Gross National product (GNP). This figure is way below the international standard (Delors Standard) in education spending pegged at 6 %. In fact, small and poor countries, like Cuba , Lesotho , and Bhutan comply with the Delors standard, allotting 9 %, 8 %, and 6 % respectively.

Furthermore, the Arroyo government reached the widest gap of education spending to the Delors Standard than the previous three administrations combined, with almost P1.4 trillion pesos needed to comply with the standard.

Meanwhile, the Arroyo government still continues in paying foreign debt, with nearly $10 million spent daily, at the expense of strengthening education.

Our stand

With all these facts and figures shown, should we expect genuine concern and action from this government in advancing the welfare of the youth by providing a just and democratic access to education?

The resounding answer is a big no! Numbers and statistics show genuine proof about this and most of all, these numbers reflect the lack of political will by Gloria Arroyo to put forward the interest of the youth as it is so obvious that her last-minute orders to improve education are merely “band-aid” solutions instead of dosing the permanent antidote to overhaul the education system.

Most of all, these problems hounding Philippine education are clear manifestation of the elite, capitalist, and bureaucratic system, in which, at the end of every day, is geared in hauling private profit instead of advancing public benefit. Even if Gloria Arroyo will impose a permanent moratorium on tuition increase in SUCs, the prevailing capitalist system cannot and will not regulate tuition in private schools, just like how it cannot regulate the prices of food, oil, electricity, and other commodities. Even if Gloria Arroyo will make “Brigada Eskwela” a routine, mere physical beautification of school campuses can never hide the blemish of having more than 14 million out of school youths nationwide.

If the government simply uses the tuition moraorium and “Brigada Eskwela” as masks to hide the real face of our country’s educational system, we, as a solid collective of youth and students, must assert our right to education while translating our calls into action. We must always keep in mind and in heart that we play a crucial role in changing such rotten system to the better, as it is us who will inherit the future. ###

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FREEDOM FOR PALESTINE! FREEDOM FROM ISRAEL-US TERRORISTS!

 The dawn of the New Year was indeed fiery for 1.4 million Palestinians living in the disputed Gaza Strip territory. Fireworks coming from cluster bombs dropped by Israeli assault jest have killed nearly 500 Palestinians, mostly innocent civilians, earmarking another genocidal war of aggression instigated by the US-backed Israeli government.

TV footages flashed by the international media showed the blatant extent of damage and casualties caused by the blitzkrieg. Bombs thrown daily and randomly across Gaza’s vicinity pose imminent danger to the lives of innocent civilian.

This bloodshed is a result of the Israeli government’s diabolic desire for more political power by grabbing Gaza Strip from Palestine and controlling Palestinian affairs. It started when Hamas, a Palestinian political party that maintains a militant stance against Israeli aggression, legitimately dominated the Palestinian government via elections. Viewing them as a threat to its selfish interest over Palestine by unjustly tagging them as a “terrorist” organization, Israel pushed for the bloody war.

And the result was plain disaster for the Palestinians. If Hamas is the real terrorist, how come, according to international reports, that there is only one Israeli soldier killed compared to 100 killed Palestinians? And what right does Israel have in intervening with Palestine’s internal affairs, in a nation duly recognized by the United Nations with its right to self-determination? And what right does Israel have in assaulting Palestine in a highly-offensive manner, with its airstrikes and all?

This atrocity must be stopped once and for all, for the sake of the millions of Palestinians waiting to be killed! We, from the Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan (SDK) in the Philippines demand for the:

  • Total pull out of Israeli troops in Gaza now!
  • Cessation of any armed hostilities and attacks in Gaza now!
  • Immediate arms embargo against Israel!
  • Philippine government to immediately freeze all diplomatic relations with Israel!

Moreover, we also condemn the ongoing support of the US government, the Bush administration, and the US Congress on Israel’s aggression. Since 1976, Israel has been the largest recipient of direct economic and military assistance from the US. With its ongoing support to Israel’s genocidal offensives, the US government must likewise be denounced!

We also call for our fellow youth and Filipinos to do their share in condemning Israel’s aggression by boycotting products with the bar code number “729” placed in the code’s first three digits. “729” stands for Israel’s country prefix. We also call for the boycott of popular brands and products that consistently support Israel, which include Coca-Cola, Starbucks, McDonald’s, Motorola, IBM, Intel, Nestle, Johnson’s and Johnson’s, Sara Lee, among others.

We will also conduct a series of protest actions and massive campaigns to denounce Israel’s aggression over Palestine. We will join the international denunciation of several nations against the Israeli government. We encourage our fellow youth and students to join us and the rest of humanity in calling for peace and the end of war in Palestine.

May this inhumane display of ruthlessness and belligerence end once and for all! But this is only possible if we are united in our stand and action against this war.

A peaceful world lies in our hands! STOP ISRAEL’S WAR AGAINST PALESTINE!

SAMAHANG DEMOKRATIKO NG KABATAAN (SDK)  2009

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