UP students to stage system-wide protest

Published August 15, 2019, 10:15 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera & Richa Noriega

By Merlina Hernando-Malipot

Students of the University of the Philippines (UP) are set to stage a system-wide protest to denounce “threats to academic freedom” through proposed police and military intervention in schools.

University of the Philippines Diliman | Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
University of the Philippines Diliman (WIKIMEDIA / MANILA BULLETIN)

The UP Office of the Student Regent (OSR), the highest representative of the student body in the Board of Regents, declared this coming August 20 as the “UP Day of Walkout and Action” to “oppose the proposed police and military intervention in our university and to defend our academic freedom.”

The OSR UP – in a memo signed by Student Regent John Isaac Punzalan – said that the UP “is currently target of police and military intrusion.” He noted that the proposed entry and intervention of the police and military in state universities including UP is “expected to result to massive surveillance and monitoring on our students, our faculty, and officials, especially those who are vocally critical.”

“Our academic freedom is at high risk of being taken away from us as we become vulnerable to baseless accusations, intimidation, and harassment,” Punzalan said. For the OSR, campus militarization is “equivalent to martial law in our university and we shall not let that happen” because the “existing accord prohibiting these state forces to operate in our campuses is a product of the student movement that have fearlessly fought for the rights of the youth and the people.”

The UP OSR enjoined all students, student councils, organizations, and formations to join the protest action as a system-wide “assertion of our right to academic freedom, to organize and to protest.”

Earlier, UP Student Councils issued a “Declaration of Unity” against police and military intervention in state universities. In a recent legislative inquiry led by Senator Ronald Dela Rosa, UP said that the police and military “have heavily accused and red-tagged progressive organizations” inside state universities saying that members are being “brainwashed” for the recruitment of the left. “These malicious allegations are already being debunked by concerned organizations and individuals, with the involved youth speaking on the issue reaching the news,” UP councils noted.

The UP Student Councils also condemned to the “highest of terms” the said pronouncement which – they alleged – will “surely endanger our right to organize and to protest in a university where academic freedom and collective decisiveness shall continuously thrive.”

“In unison, we declare that the University of the Philippines shall remain a zone of peace and its spaces shall cater to the free expression of ideas and dissent,” the UP Student Councils said. “We will never allow martial law to be implemented in our campuses,” it added.

Among the signatories in the Declaration of Unity are KASAMA sa UP, Student Councils of UP Baguio and UP Diliman, Quezon City; Student Councils of UPD in Colleges of Engineering; Science; Music; Arts and Letters; Fine Arts; Human Kinetics; Social Sciences and Philosophy; Business Administration; Mass Communication; Social Work and Community Development; Home Economics; School of Library and Information Studies; Education, the UP Law Student Government, National College of Public Administration and Governance, School of Economics, School of Statistics, and UPD Extension Program in Pampanga Student Council.

The signatories also include UP Manila University Student Council and the Student Councils of UPM in Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Medicine; Nursing; Dentistry; Allied Medical Professions; and Public Health; Pharmacy; and the Pharmaceutical Association Student Council.

Other signatories were UP Los Banos University Student Council and the student councils of UPLB Colleges of Development Communication; Agriculture and Food Science; Engineering and Agro-Industrial Technology; Human Ecology; Forestry and Natural Resources; Economics and Management; Veterinary Medicine; the UP Cebu University Student Council; the UP Visayas University Student Council and UPV colleges of Arts and Sciences; Fisheries and Ocean Sciences; Management; and School of Technology Student Council; the UPV Tacloban College Student Council; the UP Mindanao University Student Council and the UPMin Colleges of Humanities and Social Sciences; and Science and Mathematics.