By Jassen Jhane M. Longaza
On the 26th of October the FEU Central Student Organization, together with the Youth Movement Against Tyranny (YMAT), presented a national discourse entitled “BATINGAW: Unmasking the Fascism of the Current State”.
“This is such a great opportunity para tayo’y makialam, maging maalam, at kumilos hindi lang para sa ating paaralan kundi para na rin sa sambayanan.” This was stated by Jose Gabriel Bayan, FEUCSO President, on his opening remarks.
The forum was hosted by Sophia Villarama and Charles Jimenez, both from YMAT and was participated by 134 students from St. Scholastica’s College- Manila, Technological University of the Philippines (TUP), University of the Philippines- Manila (UP-M), Don Bosco Technical Institute- Manila and Far Eastern University (FEU) and convenors from the Anakbayan Partylist. It started at 2 in the afternoon inside the FEU-University Conference Centre.
The event was divided into five topics which were discussed by distinguished speakers.
Bonifacio Ilagan, a 65-year old Martial Law survivor, was the first to discuss about “Martial Law: Noon at Ngayon”. Mr. Ilagan started his talk by giving a brief history of Martial Law in the Philippines followed by a storytelling of his experiences during martial law during the Marcos regime. The speaker was once a student activist and was detained and tortured at the age of 19. He showed his disgrace towards the Marcoses by enumerating some inhumane acts that happen during the Martial Law and encouraged the listeners to not let the Marcoses’ inverted policies run the country anymore. With emphasis, the speaker ended his discussion with his message to the youth: “Tayo! Ngayon! Yan ang punto. Huwag nating tulutan na ang Martial Law ay magbalik sa ating bansa. Nasa inyo ang kinabukasan ng ating sambayanan. Please prove Jose Rizal wrong when he said that youth is wasted on the young. Patunayan niyo kay Rizal na hindi gimik lamang ang mahalaga sa kabataan kundi ang kapakanan ng ating sambayanan and you can start by being critical, by studying history and by joining the people’s movement against martial law, against all reactions. Mabuhay po tayong lahat!”
The second part of the forum tackled the tyranny attacks on the peasantry or the farmers and was discussed by the Secretary-General of UMA Philippines, John Lozande. Mr. Lozande hails from Negros and started his testimony by stating the current situation of the sugar workers in their place. According to him, most farmers in the country are discriminated and labeled as “mababa ang pinag-aralan kaya naman walang ibang option sa paghahanap ng ibang trabaho” and with a salary of Php 1500 for 15 days, these farmers are fighting for what they deserve through pakikibaka and filing petitions in the Department of Agrarian Reform. He went on to say that the only wish that these farmers had was to be heard but it had only resulted to a bloody outcome as he witnessed his fellow farmers being killed. “Ang pakikibaka ng mga manggagawa sa tubuhan ay hindi lamang isang simpleng pakikibaka. May pamamaslang, karahasan, kalupitan, ng sistema na ito ay hindi matatapos. Patuloy ang pagbubuwis ng buhay sa hanay ng mga magsasaka at manggagawang bukid tulad namin dahil wala kaming ibang option kundi ang lumaban.” Mr. Lozande finally said.
RISE UP FOR LIFE is an organization formed by church people who are also human rights advocate. The organization was represented by Rubylin Litao and was accompanied by the Caloocan Massacre survivor, Ryan. According to Mrs. Litao, Ryan has been living with RISE UP for about a year. Then, Ryan talked about his experiences with tokhang, how his friends got murdered because of the ongoing war on drugs. As a result, the RISE UP organization came up with the project: “RESPECT FOR THE HUMAN RIGHTS; RESTORE AND REDEEM; RISE UP” aiming to stop the killings. She ended by encouraging the youth to join them and their projects.
“KARAPATAN! PARA SA LAHAT DAHIL ITO ANG DAPAT”. This was the introduction of Atty. Katherine Panguban from the National Union of People’s Lawyers. The fourth part of the event was entitled RIGHT vs. MIGHT: Human Rights Amidst State Fascism and Tyranny. Atty. Panguban explained human rights as universal, inherent and inalienable. “Paano poprotektahan ang sarili o komunidad laban sa pasista nating pangulo?” this was asked by the speaker to the listeners. “Sama-samang pagkilos ang pipigil sa dahas. This is about us kasi tayo ang maiiwan. Tayo ang magiging halinbawa sa susunod na henerasyon.” she said by the end of her talk.
Hon. Sarah Jane Elago represented Kabataan Partylist and was the last speaker. Her discussion was entitled “Kabataan, Kumilos para sa Karapatan, Kalayaan at Kapayapaan” which focuses on youth empowerment. 30% of the Philippine population is composed of the youth so she encourage everyone to not depend on false hope brought by the slogan “Change is Coming”, instead the youth must continue to fight for what is right and to stand against tyranny. Hon. Elago ended the talk by saying, “Ipagpatuloy ang batingaw sa bawat espasyo ng pamantasan. Lahat ng espasyo ng paaralan ay gawing espasyo para sa debate at upang pag usapan ang mahahalagang isyu sa lipunan.”
After all the testimonies, the floor was opened for open forum with Al Omaga as the modurator. Then, the forum ended with a chant led by YMAT convenor, Kyle Atienza.