MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo supported the decision of thousands of students to walk out of their classes to condemn the government’s recent attacks on the free press.
Robredo was asked to react to #WalkOutPH, the hashtag used by mostly young Filipinos who took to the streets on Friday, February 23 to criticize press freedom and human rights violations under President Rodrigo Duterte’s government.
The Vice President said young Filipinos have long been leading the charge to stand up against tyranny. (READ: Gone too soon: 7 youth leaders killed under Martial Law)
“Ito kasing walkout, kung titingnan natin iyong ating kasaysayan, iyong mga kabataan talaga iyong nagpapahayag, nagpapahayag ng dissent – kahit noong 1986, kahit noong 1972 ‘pag-declare ng Martial Law, and even before that. Hindi na ito bago,” said Robredo.
(This walkout, if we’re going to look at history, the youth are really the ones who are expressing dissent – even in 1986 and in 1972 when Martial Law was declared, and even before that. This is not new.)
The former human rights lawyer is a critic of the 21-year regime of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, whose son and namesake has filed an electoral protest against her.
For Robredo, the government should allow the youth to publicly voice their criticisms against its policies.
“Iyong sa akin lang, dapat hindi harangin iyong mga kabataan na mag-express ng kanilang saloobin kasi isa iyon sa mga karapatan na enshrined sa ating Saligang Batas. Okay naman na siguruhin na walang violence na mangyari, pero sana walang pag-stifle ng dissent,” she said.
(For me, they should not stop the youth from expressing their opinions because that is their right enshrined by the Constitution. It is important to ensure there will be no violence, but do not stifle the youth’s dissent.)
The College Editors Guild of the Philippines and the Youth Act Now Against Tyranny have organized a series of protests nationwide to condemn moves to stifle press freedom under the Duterte administration.
This includes the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) order to shut down Rappler and the banning of Rappler reporter Pia Ranada as well as CEO and executive editor Maria Ressa from Malacañang grounds.
The Vice President is also set to attend a Mass to be held in St. Jude Thaddeus Parish Church in Naga City on Sunday, February 25, to remember the lessons from the People Power Revolution that toppled Marcos out of office. – Rappler.com