WHAT’S caught in the crossfire between student activists and the military?
Truth and democracy, assert student organizations and cause-oriented groups calling for the release of three student leaders recently arrested after an encounter described by the military as a “shootout” in Zamboanguita, Negros Oriental.
Truth and democracy, assert the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, which have charged the arrested youths, including one shot and killed during the encounter, as rebels. Officials allege that the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) is duping students into joining its armed struggle.
In this “crossfire” of opinions and assertions, there are other “collateral damages.”
The term refers to casualties and damages unexpectedly caused among civilians or non-combatants during military operations.
The promise of a life unrealized. Hopes of parents, a family’s second chances. The inimitable vision and energy of the young, who believe even before changes are realities.
Of the proposals forwarded to break the impasse, nothing satisfies.
Choose organizations well, the police advises the young.
Then they ruin their own advice by naming organizations they’ve tagged as subversive.
Do the authorities have a dossier on every member in these hotbeds of rebellion? If they do, why don’t they file a case and present their evidence in the courts?
Don’t ruin your future by joining the underground, admonishes a local government consultant.
Then he blows his own horn by praising their countermeasures to offer livelihood in exchange for rebels’ surrender.
We must be succeeding, chortles the bureaucrat. The Left now resorts to recruiting the young instead of adults.
Use the youths then as a bureaucrat’s benchmark and indicator, he could have said.
Don’t use the young in your power struggle, a party list leader challenges the CPP-NPA-NDF.
The rebels are “masters of deception” in duping the youth, notes the police.
Student groups assert that the military infiltrates campuses with their Student Intelligence Network (SIN), fielded through programs like the Reserve Officers Training Corps.
Some schools deploy their own version of student intelligence agents or student intels, like SIN, to monitor and report on campus organizations and publications in exchange for money, exemptions or other incentives.
When student leaders are found in the mountains, the military lumps them with the rebels infesting the area.
That must be why the military says they have no SINs in campuses, only overaged and overstaying sympathizers.
As an alternative to violent overthrow, teach students to believe in education to cure society’s ills, asserts an educator.
Yet, some of our students are disillusioned, he also admits.
We do have isolated cases in the masses crowding the halls of academe, is this believer of education’s final say.
Can the young be blamed for being idealistic? asks a religious leader.
Track your children, the police remind parents.
In this country, where something worse than the heat drains the heart and mind, we are bound to lose some of our young.
To parasites, big and small, invincible and invisible.
To greener pastures.
To comfort, self-denial and forgetting.
But also to history.
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* First published as “Matamata” column in the Oct. 25, 2009 issue of Sun.Star Cebu