MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte's crackdown against the Left has spilled over into a campaign against youth organizations suspected of links to the movement.
On Monday, January 14, National Youth Commission (NYC) Chairman Ronald Cardema called on all Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) officials to "fight" youth leaders allied with the communist New People's Army.
"Being Presidential Supporters or Presidential Critics is part of a healthy democracy, no problem with that. But being consistently Anti-Government, being Anti-Government Troops, and being the youth recruitment base of rebels...the newly-elected government youth leaders of today must make a stand," Cardema said in a statement sent to newsrooms.
What is SK being asked to do? Cardema said youth village officials can report "all anti-government leftist propaganda," initiate projects to clean up vandalism, and launch school-to-school and home-to-home engagements to spread "patriotic" and "nationalistic" visions and programs.
The NYC estimates that there are about 400,000 SK officials spread throughout the country's over 42,000 barangays. (READ: Duterte slams communists amid supposed ouster plot)
"All of you...will use your government titles & offices in orienting & mobilizing the youth to be partners of our government, of our government troops, and to become your own supporters towards community-building & nation-building," Cardema added.
Why does this matter? It is the first time since the NYC was placed under the Department of the Interior and Local Government from the Office of the President that the commmission's power is being used to call for coordinated action against leftist groups.
Cardema, which was appointed to head the NYC when Ice Seguerra left the post in August 2018, was the leader of the Duterte Youth Movement. – Rappler.com
Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.