By Leslie Ann Aquino
An official of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Thursday reminded National Youth Commission (NYC) Chairman Ronald Cardema that it is the primary duty of the government to educate the people.
Father Conegundo Garganta, Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines Episcopal Commission on Youth (CBCP-ECY) executive secretary, was reacting to the call of the NYC official to President Duterte to cancel government scholarships of students who participate in anti-government protests.
“To educate the people is a primary duty of every established government,” he said in an interview.
Garganta added that political ideology, among others, should never be used as reason to deprive anyone of government support.
“Religion, political ideology, or affiliation should never be a reason to deprive anyone to receive support from the government,” he said.
Earlier, Cardema called on President Duterte to issue an executive order removing the government scholarships of all anti-government scholars, specifically those allied with the CPP-NPA-NDF.
The statement drew flak from different groups and lawmakers.
Senator Chiz Escudero said the suggestion of the NYC head shows his ignorance of the Constitution.
He said this latest pronouncement by Cardema is not part of the NYC’s mandate and in fact, clearly a violation of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
The veteran lawmaker said all students, including those who take part in street protests, are afforded by the state with the right to free speech and expression, peaceably assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances. They also enjoy the right to due process and equal protection, just like any other citizens of this country.