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Influential youth group calls on Duterte to resign

40,000-strong Philippine organization speaks out against killing of youths, intimidation of its members

Influential youth group calls on Duterte to resign

Youth leaders demand the resignation of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte at a press conference in Manila on Oct. 3. (Photo by Inday Espina-Varona)

 

Inday Espina-Varona, Manila
Philippines

October 3, 2017

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A 40,000-strong national organization of community youths and students has demanded that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte resign over the killing of minors and largely poor suspects in the government's anti-narcotics war.

"Stop the killings! Duterte resign!" leaders of the youth group Anakbayan chanted on Oct. 3 at a press conference that highlighted cases of government intelligence forces threatening student activists and their families.

The call for Duterte's resignation followed a series of youth killings in the past week.

Dave Galangue, 17, was shot dead on Sept. 28 while on his way to a laundry shop in Manila's Taguig suburb. Athena Imperial, 16, was shot dead in Quezon City, also in the national region, as she left a barbershop on Oct 2. That same night, another 16-year-old, Aldrin Raman Jore, was killed in the same area.

Vinz Simon, chairman of the Analbayan group's chapter at Catholic De La Salle University, said the youths were also protesting martial law in Mindanao, and the intrusion of the United States and China in national affairs.

Citing new war games between the U.S. and the Philippines, and China muscling into the government's infrastructure program, Anakbayan described Duterte's claim of being a "progressive leader" as "a sham."

Anakbayan presented four cases of harassment of student activists in late September and October. Most of the victims requested their names be withheld for out of fears for their safety.

Eden (not her real name) said soldiers in exercise uniforms confronted her parents at their home about her activism at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines in Manila.

"My mother panicked because they threatened the safety of her child and the whole family," the student told ucanews.com.

Simon said an activist of the Anakbayan chapter at De La Salle University also reported a visit by unidentified men to the family home in Caloocan City.

Another student and Anakbayan activist was stopped by two men on a motorcycle just outside the university campus on Sept. 28.

They tried to take his backpack and warned they knew all the places he visited in and out of campus. The men sped off when the student ran to a nearby computer shop. 

The following day, a female senior high school student was accosted on a bus as she headed home after a protest rally.

Simon said this is not the first time Filipino youths have faced threats. 

"Youths have always played an important role in major political and social campaigns," Simon said. "We will stand firm. We will resist tyranny," he added

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