By Mark Ernest Famatigan
On May 6, the Student Disciplinary Tribunal held a preliminary investigation for the case Angelo Claveria, Sandra Lyn Dorington, and Ludwig Valle, three student protesters who were charged of damage to University property during the First Day Rage held on August 2, 2017. The protest action called for the waiving of tuition fee collection and administration support for free education.
The three protesters were charged with Damage to University Property in violation of Section 2 (j) of the Rules and Regulations on Student Conduct and Discipline for allegedly causing damage to the UPLB Main Library glass door by repeatedly pushing and hitting it. Claveria is the only one facing the preliminary investigation as of now, due to him being the only registered student during this semester among the three.
Claveria submitted a counter affidavit representing the three of them to the SDT.
In their submitted counter-affidavit, Claveria claimed that he did not initiate the breaking of the glass door, but was caused by the tension between the students, University Police Force (UPF), and Community Service Brigade (CSB).
“The breaking of the glass door was clearly caused by the commotion, tension, and confusion resulting from the collective acts of the students, and members of the UPF and CSB. Though the damage was very unfortunate and inopportune, to impute such damage on me and my co-respondents alone is unfair and inequitable,” Claveria stated.
Claveria also stated that the case against the three of them were coincidental and due to them being singled out by the UPF, claiming that the UPF noted their names after being sent to the UHS.
“Incidental lang na kami yung nasa harapan, nasugatan, at nadala sa ospital kung san kami nakuhaan ng pangalan. Kaya kami yung kinasuhan [It was mere incidental that we were the ones in front, injured, and sent to the hospital where they got our names. That is why we’re facing charges],” Claveria said in an interview.
Claveria then stressed that his participation in the protest-rally against the tuition fee collection and other school fees in a state university is an exercise of his constitutionally guaranteed right to exercise freedom of speech and expression as specified by the Free Speech Clause under the Bill of Rights in the 1987 Constitution.
“My participation in the protest-rally, subject of the formal charge, is just that, to protest the imposition of tuition and other school fees in a state university. I believe that this participation is an exercise of freedom of speech and expression, which is guaranteed by the Free Speech Clause under the Bill of Rights of our Constitution,” Claveria stated.
Consequently, he manifested that his participation in the protest-rally is to advocate the cause for Free Education and was not to break doors nor induce damage to property.
“My participation in the subject incident is to protest and to advocate the USC’s cause. I have no intention, whatsoever, to break doors, glasses or any University property. Neither did I incite the student-protesters to ‘become restless and unruly’, as stated in the Spot Report, dated 02 August 2017. Such statement by Senior Officer Reigel Allan L. Sorra was markedly his interpretation of the incident and was not in any way factual. Hence, it cannot even be said that I induced the damaging of property,” Claveria stated..
Moreover, then-USC chairperson Charm Maranan said the filing of charges against the three student leaders were forms of attacks on their democratic rights.
“I condemn the filing of charges against Angelo Claveria, Sandra Lyn Dorington, and Ludwig Valle for what transpired during the First Day Rage in 2017. It is an attack to the right to organize and the freedom of expression of the students.,” Maranan said in an interview.
Maranan added that the glass door wasn’t intended to broken, and that the students needed to assert their rights.
“It is very unfortunate that the glass door broke, but it was never planned to be broken. It was because of the anger of the students and their need to assert their right to education. We should remember that the First Day Rage was a product of the collective action of students who assert their right for free access to quality and accessible education,” she said.
Claveria is to face the SDT again on May 14, 2019 for a second hearing. Dorington and Valle are yet to face their charges. [P]