(Screengrabbed from SONAgkaisang Kabataan sa Paglaban livestream.)

CENTRAL Student Council President Robert Dominic Gonzales and Artlets Student Council interim president Paolo Jericho Duruin-Manuel criticized the Duterte administration for its “incompetency” in handling the Covid-19 crisis, as well as for approving the Anti-Terror Law and shutting down media giant ABS-CBN.

The two student leaders spoke during the “SONAgkaisang Kabataan sa Paglaban” online press conference organized by the “Youth Act Now Against Tyranny” group ahead of the State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Rodrigo Duterte on July 27.

Gonzales said the government’s pandemic response worsened the plight of different sectors.

“We have witnessed the incompetency that the administration has manifested in many different ways, from the worsening Covid-19 health situation to the deafening silence on the plight of our students and workforce, on education,” he said.

“We cannot deny the fact that these have affected a lot of families and sectors in one way or another, and we can all trace and root these worsening situations from incompetent government,” he added.

Manuel hit the administration’s “misplaced efforts“ in response to the pandemic and urged the youth to take a stand.

“It is imperative that we take a stand in the different social issues that our country is facing. It is clear that the socioeconomic crisis that we are facing today can be traced to the incompetence of the national government,” he said.

Kabataan party-list representative Sarah Elago warned that the anti-terrorism law could lead to human rights abuses.

[D]apat na nating ibasura ang Terror Law dahil ito mismo ay abuso ‘di lamang sa ating Saligang Batas kundi paglabag sa ating karapatang pantao, at manggagawa ng hindi lang ng kasalukuyan, kundi ang kinabukasan ng kabataan,” Elago said.

A “Unity Statement of the Youth against Duterte’s Terror Law” was signed by various groups, including the Artlets Student Council and the College of Education Student Council.

“The virus continues to ravage the country, but Duterte has no plans of implementing medical solutions, no plans of aiding those whose livelihoods were affected, and no plans of respecting human rights,” student leaders said in the statement.