MANILA — The head of the National Youth Commission clarified Wednesday that only government scholars linked to rebel groups should lose their scholarships.
NYC Chairman Ronald Cardema drew flak after asking President Rodrigo Duterte to sign an executive order revoking scholarships for anti-government students, specifically those allied with the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army (NPA), and the National Democratic Front.
Cardema said his suggestion was only for students allied with rebel groups such as the NPA and does not include students who simply express dissent or protest against the government.
"Remove the government scholarships of anti-government scholars na nagrerebelde na, never did I say na... all street protesters will be removed from their scholarship,” Cardema told reporters.
Cardena added that he sees nothing wrong if students join anti-government rallies or even call for the president's resignation, saying he understands students' rights to voice their opinions.
Cardema made the clarification after drawing flak from various groups and several senators.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo earlier said students who express dissent against government policies should not have their scholarships in state universities revoked.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra even said the removal of scholarship from anti-government students was a restraint to “the youth's constitutional right to freedom of speech and expression.”
-- With a report from Robert Mano, ABS-CBN News