Finalists in Top 10 Bicol students search give Duterte, congressmen failing grades
By Mar S. Arguelles LEGAZPI CITY --- All the 20 finalists in the search for Ten Outstanding Students of Bicol (TOSB) believe that President Rodrigo Duterte and Congress performed poorly in their jobs as they gave the both country’s chief executive and members of Congress a failing grade. The TOSB finalists during last Friday’s press conference expressed disappointment over the performance of Duterte and members of both houses of Congress because of their failure to deliver what they have promised when they campaigned for their posts during the 2016 national elections. Duterte failed to carry out his war on illegal drugs that resulted in thousands of suspected illegal drug peddlers and users killed by government law enforcement operatives, which according to human rights advocates were actually victims of extrajudicial killing (EJK), according to Mika Ramos, a TOSP finalist from Camarines Sur. Ramos said “government law enforcers have no license to kill; there are processes that are to be followed.” Ramos believes that the fight against illegal drugs lacks the opportunity or room for reform such as rehabilitative measures and social services needed by drug dependents. Marianne Rose Brusola, a finalist from Albay, said that she welcomes the President’s campaign against drug but she does not favor the reported cases of EJK, adding that “under the Constitution people have the right to life.” Banning media from Presidential events and Fake news All of the TOSB finalists have expressed dismay over the bully treatment by banning journalists from covering Malacanang for their negative slants, citing the Pia Ranada and her media outfit Rappler whom Pres. Duterte accused of publishing “fake news.” Ace John Tabuzo, a campus press editor from Catanduanes citing the constitutional right to information, said the ban vs media coverage and accusing media as purveyors of fake news are an affront to freedom of the press and the right of the people to information. Citing a Vera Files report, Tabuzo said: “Duterte is the purveyor of fake news.” Aira Mae Deocareza, a student from Albay, shared the negative sentiments about media treatment from the Duterte administration. She underlined thaty “media work is not a privilege but a right to source out, gather, write and to accurately inform the public of what the government is doing.” Gene Harvey Amoroso of Camarines Sur, also a campus editor, said “we advocate for truth as enshrined in the Freedom of Information; we write and post our articles based on our sources and facts. “ Other current issues that the government is pushing which, according to the youth finalists were unpopular and “unfavorable” and not toppriority are the Divorce bill, Federalism, and TRAIN law. Congress’ poor performance The 20 finalists were one in giving members of Congress a failing grade because of their failure to craft significant legislations that would benefit the people, most especially the marginalized. Bob Vincent Gonzales, student from Camarines Sur, said these legislators are giving more attention to conducting investigations than crafting laws which is their main task as lawmakers. Gonzales said “once when I visited Congress I noticed that the congressmen’s desks were piled up with documents that are gathering dust.” Bianca Serrano, from Camarines Sur, lamented that important bills such as the protection of the rights of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) against abuses and the Anti-Dynasty bill are not given attention by our lawmakers. The yearly search for the Ten Outstanding Students of Bicol is sponsored by the Ako Bicol (AKB) Party List and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Bicol. The search is now in its 9th year. Only 20 among the 48 students endorsed by various colleges and state universities made it to the final stage where the top ten will be selected. Criteria for the selection include academic performance, leadership, and how they fare in the panel interview.