Students hailing from the 18 schools involved in the alleged ‘Red October’ ouster plot took to the streets to air their condemnation over the claims of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in a protest in Mendiola on Friday, October 12.

Photos by JC Gilana and Jamela Santiago

Young protesters lambasted the claims over their schools serving as ‘recruitment grounds of CPP-NPA’ and challenged the Duterte administration to resolve the economic crisis instead of tagging dissent as a form of destabilization against the government.

In a statement, Youth Movement Against Tyranny (YMAT) regional convener Paco Perez blasted the Duterte government over its accusations. “Imbis na unahing solusyonan ang kronikong krisis sa ekonomiya, mas pinili pa ni Duterte at ng AFP na gumawa ng mga gawa-gawang kuwento tungkol sa mga kabataan na ‘di umano’y kasama sa destabilization plot. Pinatutunayan lamang ng rehimeng Duterte na ito ay anti-mamamayan sa pakana nitong pagpapatahimik sa mga kabataan at mamamayang lumalaban para sa kanilang karapatan,” Perez said.

(“Instead of resolving the chronic crisis in the economy, Duterte and the AFP chose to fabricate stories about the youth being involved in the destabilization plot. This Duterte regime only proves itself as a regime that is anti-people with its policies of silencing the youth and the people clamoring for their rights.”)

Educators and administrators also aired out dismay over the red-tagging, citing that the accusations have placed the whole school communities in danger. The Dean of the UP Manila College of Arts and Sciences, Dean Leonardo Estacio, released a prior statement regarding the red-tagging of their University in a press conference held by the UP Manila community on October 5, 2018.

Part of the statement reads:

“Hindi maitatanggi na aming isinusulong ang malaya at mapagpalayang edukasyon—ito ang sagradong tatak ng UP. Kaya sa loob at labas man ng aming silid-aralan, matatag ang aming paniniwala, paninindigan, at pagsasabuhay sa demokratikong proseso at sa malayang pamamahayag at kritikal na pagpuna sa mga nangyayari sa saan mang bagay at sa anumang antas – sa loob man ito ng aming unibersidad o kolehiyo at sa labas – sa ating mga komunidad, lansangan, at sa ating pamahalaan. Ito ang nais naming ipahayag nang tahasan – di po kasali ang aming Kolehiyo at Komunidad sa “Red October” – kung meron mang pagkakataon at kakayahan sasali lang po kami sa October Fest…Mabuhay ang CAS, Mabuhay ang UP Manila, Mabuhay ang sambayanang Pilipino…”

(“We will not deny that we promote the free and liberating education—this is the sacred mark of UP. Within and outside our classrooms, we are steadfast in our beliefs, principles, and praxis of democratic processes and freedom of expression, as well as criticizing whatever is happening in all avenues—whether inside our university and college, or outside –in our communities, in the streets, and even in the government. This is what we would like to explicitly claim – our College and our Community is not involved in the “Red October” – if anything, we would rather join the October Fest. Long live CAS. Long live UP Manila. Long live the Filipino People!)

School communities of the University of the East, University of Sto. Tomas, Adamson University, Far Eastern University, Ateneo De Manila University, and De La Salle University among others also released their respective statements over the course of the week.

Students from red-tagged schools vowed to uphold democratic rights within and outside their campuses amid Defense chief Delfin Lorenzana’s announcement that Red October ‘fizzled out’ because state armed forces ‘uncovered and exposed it’.

“There is no longer any ‘Red October’ plot because there wasn’t any plot to begin with. It’s a mere fabrication of the Duterte government desperate to cover up its incapacity to resolve Filipinos’ increasing poverty,” said Perez.

Meanwhile, the students from the various school communities that mobilized state that they shall continue to fight for their rights amidst the situation.

“Patuloy na makikibaka ang kabataan, kasama ng mga mamamayan para sa tunay na malaya at makatarungang lipunan,” Perez stated.

(“The youth will continue to fight, along with the Filipino people, for a society that is truly just and free society.”)

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