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Editorial: Stupidity breeds idiocy

NATIONAL Youth Commission Chair Ronald Cardema should not spend a minute more in his post after putting himself under fire for proposing to remove scholarships from “anti-government” students. At least two Bicolano legislators, in fact, want his butt off that chair, if not his head off, for such an arrogant, ignorant suggestion. Senator Escudero, an iskolar ng Bayan himself, described Cardema’s suggestion as “sycophantic and obsequious.”

A more sober Albay Rep. Joey Salceda went on to lecture Cardema. He said there is no provision in the Free College Law (which grants such scholarships) that prohibits scholars from joining protests or from opposing the administration, aside from the fact that such move would curtail the more fundamental freedom of expression, particularly in educational institutions which are training grounds of the youth.

In a report by our Albay correspondent Mar S. Arguelles, Rep. Salceda warned that removing the scholarship of so-called anti-government students would be in violation of the principles of the Universal Access to Quality and Tertiary Education Act (UAQTEA) or RA 10931, adding that Cardema failed to read the spirit of the UAQTEA of which he [Salceda] originally crafted in the lower house. “The law is pretty clear in setting the basis for the loss of scholarship, nothing in the law may be construed making as the basis for cancellation of scholarships of suspected ‘anti-government’ students and there is no practical process for identifying them anyway,” Salceda averred.

Under the law, the loss of scholarship may only be based on two things: first, failure to complete the course within one year after a prescribed period; second, failure to comply with admission and retention policies of the institution.

Salceda explained that the UAQTEA guarantees free college education regardless of belief or political persuasion of the student, or his stand on prevailing issues, for as long as he is not proven to have broken any law or the retention policies of the school.

And where did Cardema get the idea of revoking the scholarships of those students “opposed” to the government?

Without batting an eyelash, so to speak, Cardema said he was merely reviving an earlier idea of President Duterte. The NYC chair, who looks and talks like he’s overaged for his post, appeared to be referring to a remark made by his boss last year after students staged a nationwide walkout to protest against his government’s policies. “I’ll give you a privilege: don’t come to school for a year. I’ll let the bright Lumad enter UP,” the President said in a speech at the military’s Eastern Mindanao Command headquarters on Feb. 1, 2018.

Cardema said he just remembered Duterte’s remark following the death of a UP-Los Baños student who was killed in encounter between the New People’s Army and the military. By suggesting to remove the scholarships of “the very few” who bear arms against the government, Cardema failed to respond to observations that these students are no longer scholars anyway as they have already left school to join the rebels.

To further educate Cardema, the Free College Law was signed by Duterte in 2017 and now covers 112 state universities and colleges and 87 accredited local universities and colleges (LUCs) throughout the country while 1,000 of the 1,710 private colleges are beginning to benefit from the Tertiary Education Subsidy.

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