Stepping forward: Strengthening student alliance as a dictator’s son returns to Malacañang
Originally published from HF Volume 36 Issue 3
The year 2022 sets a scary and dangerous path for many Filipino youth, from their right to dissent being put on the line to the successful return of a Marcos and a Duterte into power. Many of them fear that history may not only repeat itself, but of being erased, distorted, and forgotten with the exacerbated effects of disinformation nowadays. While some hid in fear and supported from afar, the number of young adults and students who came forward and braved the dangers of denouncing a dictator’s son went beyond the count. And DLSU-D students are just one of those who have gone beyond expectations.
Since the campaign started in February, student governments, organizations, and alliances in DLSU-D have vocally expressed their stance for the 2022 elections, what many believe as the most consequential elections in modern history. From changing their logos to pink, painting murals, to storming to streets as a show of force for opposition bets Leni Robredo and Kiko Pangilinan, the DLSU-D student community makes history when it comes to matters beyond the campus. But as the months-long fight for what many hoped as a rise of ‘trustworthy and good governance’ didn’t turn out to favor on their side, a more pressing question now stands for the entire student body for the coming years and beyond: What’s next for Lasallian students under a Marcos-Duterte government?
Although the DLSU-D student community seems to have a dull history when taking a stand on social issues as a whole, there are a handful of young Lasallians who have been putting the fight to a movement even before the elections. The first to do so is the Coalition of Concerned Lasallians (CCL), an alliance composed of DLSU-D students from different colleges who aim to “uphold a pro-student and pro-people education.” Established in 2020, CCL is so far the only student alliance in the University that strives to forward progressive causes through student dialogues, consultations, protests, and active involvement with national democratic organizations (NDMOs) to fight for the rights of its fellow students and youth.
When DLSU-D and several universities nationwide recommended a tuition fee hike in February 2020, CCL staged a walkout protest in front of Waltermart Dasmariñas to amplify its calls for the suspension of the then impending increase. Only a few students bravely joined the walkout at the time, while the University Student Government’s (USG) lack of support was also called into question. But this didn’t hinder the alliance from turning their plight into a movement – a response that many students hoped to come from their student leaders.
Despite the odds, the student alliance never stopped from continuing what has already been started, this time through making ends meet. While in a nationwide lockdown, CCL set up online dialogues and consultations with Lasallian students, from knowing their concerns during distance learning to participating in the #LigtasNaBalikEswkela calls in the country. “Noong dumating ‘yung lockdown, actually CCL has been working with other mass organizations too like National Union Student of the Philippines, we have been working with them […] sa pagpapalakas ng tawag sa Ligtas na Balik Eskwela and academic ease,” CCL Coordinator Bianca Canlas told The HERALDO FILIPINO.
Just like many student governments and organizations in campus, the student alliance has also been active in expressing their stance during the elections in their own means: joining Leni-Kiko rallies, campaigning for progressive leaders like Bayan Muna Chair Neri Colmenares, and mounting house-to-house campaigns. “Mostly ‘yung mga kaganapan let’s say sa creatives ganyan, pagsusulat ng mga statements in regards doon sa elections, and pagco-consolidate ng mga tao while we are on the grounds during the rally and house-to-house campaigns,” Canlas detailed when asked about CCL’s efforts during the election season.
The next step
After suffering through what many believe as the dirtiest elections in history, what comes next is now the most crucial step for any student leaders and activists who will live through the Marcos-Duterte generation. For a student alliance like CCL, the fire hasn’t ended with an election loss – it’s only getting started.
On a student level, Canlas stressed two things that should be anyone’s utmost priority in the incoming administration: resistance to the possible implementation of mandatory ROTC in universities, and protection of academic freedom. “We should continue to call na ‘wag i-push ‘yung mandatory ROTC sa loob ng schools kasi literal na ma-eendanger ‘yung buhay ng bawat isa dahil sa threat na makapapasok yung mga militar […] and i-continue na i-feed ng black propaganda ‘yung mga estudyante,” she pointed out.
As disinformation stands as the biggest threat to history nowadays, protecting it from any attempts of distortion becomes a more pressing challenge. Canlas said people must now hold the line in keeping records of history, especially during the martial law regime by exposing youth to historical artifacts like books, films, music, and among others. She added engaging people to educational discussions and joining mobilization in streets would be a step forward in remembering the stories about the Marcos dictatorship, most especially the victims under the 21-year rule.
While these stand as essential steps in continuing the fight, the step to put student calls into legislation within the campus has yet to be taken. As the right to dissent remains at stake through countless red-tagging, CCL plans to lobby a bill to the USG that would protect the rights of students should these incidents arise within the campus.
Dubbed as the Anti-Red Tagging Bill, the CCL proposed draft lays out different forms of red-tagging, may it be online, verbal, or physical, and identifies the level of sanctions for those who will commit such actions. The draft also prohibits any form of militarization inside the University, which is similar to the calls being pushed in other universities across the country. In line with this, The HERALDO FILIPINO reached out to the USG on the legislations they are eyeing to pass under the incoming Marcos-Duterte government, but said they ‘wish to keep it in private’ as their plans are still in progress as of now.
When asked how will she and CCL encourage their fellow Lasallians to take a bold stand under the coming Marcos-Duterte government, Canlas left strong words for the youth and student community: “Isa sa mga pinaka-importanteng paraan para i-encourage ang mga Lasallians, of course, imulat sila doon sa reyalidad na meron tayo ngayon […] hindi lang tayo as Lasallians, pero ‘yung nasa laylayan, mga magsasaka, mga manggagawa, na maintindihan nila bakit nangyayari itong opresyon […] Napaka-importante rin na samahan sila doon sa magiging journey nila if they said yes na makibaka or to resist sa magiging dictatorship ng Marcos-Duterte. At gabayan sila doon sa mga maaring gawin, maaring possibilities na pagdadaanan natin as Lasallians, as student leaders under this regime.”
Our hopes and dreams may have been shattered by a disheartening loss but never our fire to fight and resist. As the Filipino youth has started taking an important step in restoring the democracy that’s been tainted for so long, there should be no room for taking a step back when millions already took a step forward in ways beyond our reach. Taking revolutionary steps would be the best arm against different forms of struggle, and the best path to take for those who want to break the status quo.