Sunday, July 25, 2010

What the youth wants to hear on P-Noy's 1st SONA: Stop the killings, re-channel counter-insurgency funds to education

What the youth wants to hear on P-Noy's 1st SONA:
Stop the killings, re-channel counter-insurgency funds to education*

"Funds for counter-insurgency would be put to better use if re-directed to address the education crisis." This was the statement of Kabataan Partylist Rep. Raymond Palatino in anticipation of President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino's first State of the Nation Address (SONA) today.

"Aquino can hit two birds with one stone by alloting the promised for the intensification of the government's counter-insurgency campaign to the education sector instead," he said.

Armed Forces Chief of Staff Ricardo David Jr. had earlier declared to end counter-insugency in three years wherein Aquino vowed to provide the military all necessities in order to achieve its goal. He, however, had so far not made any categorical commitment to increase the budget for education.

Palatino said that to increase funds for counter-insurgency was tantamount to tolerating and condoning further extra-judicial killings instead of resolutely putting a stop to them. "It sets a deadly encouragement to the military that the past Arroyo administration's policy of extra-judicial killings and human rights violations against perceived 'enemies of the state' is still a go."

He said that the funds for counter-insurgency could be used to procure additional classrooms and chairs, textbooks, laboratory facilities among others.

"As it is, the budget allotment per capita for education is much, much less than the cost of one bullet (P 11 per student: P 14 per bullet)." He said, unfortunately, students have been "biting the bullet when it comes to the government's prioritization of militarization and counter-insurgency over education".

"Increasing budget allocation for education would also decisively put to stop yearly tuition and other fee increases. The Aquino administration should put the interest and the welfare of the youth over giving license to trigger-happy military elements to kill one activist after the other.”

The youth solon had earlier presented to the new Aquino administration the youth's agenda for education, first among them the allocation of six (6) percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) to education as prescribed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Palatino, in today's SONA proceedings, wore a sablay (graduation sash) printed with the words, "Stop tuition and other fees increases! Stop the killings!".

The sablay, according to him, signified "every youth's right to quality education and the youth's respect for human rights by calling an end extrajudicial killings".

Palatino, together with other representatives of progressive partylists, later joined thousands of youth and students who walked out of their classes to participate in the People's SONA rally.