The real enemy

By: Reyshimar Arguelles

ONE can only wonder which planet Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa comes from. To his mind, activism and radicalism are one and the same thing, never mind the fact that political activism is part and parcel of the right for students to express their sentiments on how things are run. You could be woke without aiming an AK-47 at an armored car. And if there’s any way for law enforcement to stymie the radicalization of students, it simply has to leave the academic community alone.

This is one thing that Bato and the rest of the anti-Left cheer squad couldn’t possibly understand even if you show them a crayon diagram of why military presence in state universities is a bad idea.

In defense of his vapid plans to allow state forces inside universities, Bato made the outrageous claim that academic freedom is one-sided, serving only the agenda of Leftist groups. It’s unfair, he says, that the police and army are driven out the gates to watch the communist infection spread among the youth. His heart bleeds for the young people who threw away the opportunity to lead a comfortable life in the mainstream to join a decades-long insurgency. And in some way, the liberal culture of state institutions such as UP and PUP is to blame.

In the battle for hearts and minds, Bato proposes opening up a new front in the war against the communist insurgency. The rationale behind this plan is to create a level playing where the armed forces are allowed to promote nationalism, patriotism, and obedience to the government. It’s a play on words that somehow tells students the dangers of having an open mind and the righteousness and decency the government is capable of showing – if it indeed possesses even a shred of both.

Dissent exists where the government maintains a level of irrationality it isn’t aware of. How can we sleep at night knowing that the state wants no other alternative towards creating a better society? How can we stay silent when there’s a clamor to yield our freedoms to a machine that operates only for the protection of the unholy status quo?

We are made to believe that what we have right now is the best of all possible situations. We couldn’t get any more comfortable knowing that the state is keeping the peace and improving the lives of its citizens like any democratic government wants to plug. But underneath all this show of benevolence is a desire to paint any form of dissent as “radical” or “extremist,” regardless of how such rebellious sentiments were produced in the first place.

The normalization of extrajudicial killings has become one of the many issues hounding the Duterte government, along with Chinese incursions into Philippine waters, attacks on farmers in Negros Island, and the most sordid and shameless display of impunity and corruption we’ve witnessed since the 70s. Young people, in their capacity for woke-ness, train a spotlight on the issues that really matter to them as citizens. Sure enough, educational institutions provide an avenue where problems can be thoroughly discussed from all angles, unlike the halls of the legislature where the most depraved souls choose to follow their biases rather than exercise their ability to think.

Of course, Bato and his ilk skew towards a limited understanding of the world as dictated by military doctrines and this need to exercise state power like chauvinists flaunting their abs to show why they’re better than everyone else. But while it’s understandable that state forces need to protect the youth from the enemies of the state, a more workable definition of “enemy” has to be examined.

Pandering to the emotions of the public by using the parents of students who were recruited into the communist cause does nothing but distract us from the real maladies that are cultivating the insurgency in the first place.

The real enemies are out there, and they’re not fighting in the jungles or burning effigies. They’re wearing suits, dresses, ties, and barongs, and have the gall to be addressed as “honorable” in every event they grace and plunder public coffers and resort to violence when things aren’t working in their favor and come up with bad decisions that cost lives – decisions such as falsely tagging activists as enemies.