BREAK THE SILENCE! | Unite to end the murder of our youth

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Gruesome threesome
Kian Lloyd delos Santos, Carl Angelo Arnaiz and Reynaldo de Guzman: three teeners whose deaths have put the PNP on the defensive. INTERAKSYON FILE IMAGE

This is the statement of the Congress of Teachers/Educators for Nationalism and Democracy-UP Diliman on the deaths of young men Kian Loyd delos Santos, Carl Angelo Arnaiz, Reynaldo “Kulot” de Guzman, and ObilloBay-ao. On Thursday, another youth, Vaughn Carl M. Dican of Baguio City was also found dead.

“What good are beautiful highways and airports, beautiful buildings full of spacious apartments, if they are only put together with the blood of the poor, who are not going to enjoy them?” – Blessed Bishop Oscar Romero, July 15, 1979

The members of CONTEND UP Diliman express our indignation over the recent killings of  Obillo Bay-ao, Carl Angelo Arnaiz, Reynaldo de Guzman, and Kian delos Santos. Duterte’s war on drugs has already taken a heavy toll: the lives of 13,000 Filipinos, most of them poor. The blood of innocent children and youth is pooling on the streets, and the perpetrators of these crimes go unpunished, in the name of supposedly protecting the future of our nation.

We take special case for Carl Arnaiz, a former UP student who dropped from our University because of academic and financial pressure. Our society could not even provide free education for Carl and other poor students, and now they are the targets of the US-Duterte war on drugs. And because UP is the second home of the Lumad resistance, we are equally pained by the death of 19-year-old Lumad student Obillo Bay-ao, recently killed by a notorious paramilitary force in Davao del Norte, while he was on his way home from his family’s fields. He is a victim amidst the relentless plunder of natural resources, disguised as a “war on terror” and a war on insurgency blessed and furthered by the imperial US. Even as we shout the names of these young boys in our demand for justice, we remember that they are but a few in the list of children murdered by the regime, which has also made orphans out of so many.

Our law enforcement can only target poor drug users, Lumad students, and penniless minors who cannot defend themselves against the fangs of the fascist government.

As teachers, we stand as the second parents of our students. We denounce a government that keeps defending itself by claiming these murders are either “exceptions” or “collateral damage.” When so many are killed, the exception becomes the norm. Even if one child is murdered by the state, we should raise the fury of hell! In the face of murders of the innocent, our silence becomes the normal state of affairs. We become numb and indifferent to injustice, and murder becomes a way of life.

As teachers, we express our fears that our streets are not safe for our students anymore. Ironically, we have come to fear law enforcers themselves. Even our schools have been illegally subjected to drug testing. This is not simply a problem of privacy and confidentiality — it makes apparent the militarization, regulation, and surveillance creeping into academic communities.

As educators, we condemn the public hypocrisy of President Duterte, who commiserates with families of the victims while unleashing his fascist fury on the urban poor communities and the minorities. Deflecting responsibility for these deaths does not absolve the President of his guilt. His actuations and speeches in public have emboldened law enforcers to ruthlessly violate the human rights of civilians, disregarding democratic processes and institutions.

If the President sincerely believes that injustice has transpired, he should stop his war on drugs. He has to end martial law in Mindanao! He has to address the real causes of drug use: economic and social crises. He has to make accountable all government agents who have used violence against the poor youth and displaced Lumad students. The President cannot pretend to be untainted by this spate of killings. He is ultimately responsible, as the “father” of the nation, and the chief of his police and armed forces, for the malevolent state of affairs we are under now.

Stop the killings now!

End state impunity!

Justice for all the human rights victims of the US-Duterte regime!

Down with state fascism!

No to Duterte’s fascist war on drugs!

Address the economic and social roots of the drug problems!