Students and organization representatives took to the streets last November 17, International Students’ Day, calling for an academic ease and to hold the national government, specifically Pres. Rodrigo Duterte accountable.
Protestors mobilized in front of the Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU), and the Commission on Higher Education’s (CHED) central office, following the government’s negligence in the COVID-19 pandemic and disasters caused by the recent typhoons.
Students from AdMU, University of the Philippines (UP), De La Salle University (DLSU) , University of Santo Tomas (UST), Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM), Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP), Rizal Technological University (RTU), and National University (NU) were present at the event.
Other organizations that joined the cause were the National Union of Students in the Philippines (NUSP), Kabataan Party-list (KPL), and labor union Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU).
As the students and participants gathered in front of AdMU, KPL UP Diliman slammed Duterte for negligence of the youth’s education.
“Walang pakialam si Duterte sa lahat ng mga mamamayan na nakararanas ng krisis ngayon. Malinaw na wala ang kabataan sa interes ng rehimeng Duterte. Mula sa hanay ng mga iskolar ng bayan, ang panawagan namin ay itigil na ang semestreng ito. Dahil malinaw na wala sa interes ni Duterte na ipaglaban ang ligtas at demokratikong edukasyon ng mga kabataan,” KPL UP Diliman said.
This sentiment is shared by KMU, who showed their support for the students and lambasted Duterte for the government’s misplaced priorities.
“Ang uring manggagawa ay lubos na nagagalak sa paglaban ng mga kabataan sa pasistang Duterte. Dinaanan tayo ng mga bagyo. Nasaan ang gobyerno? Nasa tabi ba ng mga mamamayan? Wala! Kapag irerescue ang mga mamamayan hindi magamit ang chopper. Pero kapag pambobomba sa mga mamamayan ay gamit na gamit,” KMU said.
They added that it was not impossible to oust Duterte from power.
“Ang Nobyembre ay panahon ng pagrerebolusyon. Bigkisin natin ang ating hanay. Hindi imposibleng mapatalsik si Duterte. Kami bilang inyong mga magulang ay sumusumpa na sasamahan namin kayo sa pakikibaka,” KMU continued.
Meanwhile, students and youth organizations from Southern Tagalog, including UPLB University Student Council (USC) mobilized in front of the CHED central office to protest for academic ease in the region and to call for the resignation of the Duterte administration.
The College Editors Guild of the Philippines – Southern Tagalog (CEGP-ST) said that the semester was a “failed experiment.”
“Ang ating panawagan ay itigil agad ang semestre. Hindi tayo papayag na may maiiwan. Sa kabila ng mga ito, wala pa rin tayong natutunan. Failure ang semestreng ito,” CEGP-ST stated.
Initially, CHED staff barred the students and youth organizations’ representatives from entering the building and submitting their position paper but CHED eventually allowed one representative to be let in after the students demanded.
After a dialogue with the students’ representative, a CHED representative promised to raise the student demands in the position paper, which included the demands listedas before, as well as immediate assistance for affected students and academic ease.
Hours after the protest, UPLB student leaders gathered for the Council of Student Leaders (CSL), UPLB USC’s consultative arm. It was there that a university wide-strike was declared. [P]
Photo by Sonya Mariella Castillo