Student activists call for national academic break, demand accountability from gov’t

Published November 17, 2020, 1:44 PM

by Joseph Pedrajas

Student activists on Tuesday gathered in front of Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) in Quezon City to express solidarity with ADMU students who recently pledged to hold academic strike as a protest against the “national government’s criminally neglectful response” to the recent typhoons and “the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease) pandemic as a whole.”

(College Editors Guild of the Philippines)

Scores of youth from various progressive groups, mostly clad in black, raised their placards as they expressed support for ADMU students’ concerns. They also demanded accountability from President Duterte’s administration regarding their response to the recent calamities.

“Youth Strike Back Against Duterte’s Criminal Negligence,” a message on black tarpaulin read.

“Urgent Relief Now!” another one added.

The students called for the “national academic break now” as they said, other students in different parts of the country are still struggling to comply with their online classes amid the pandemic and the recent typhoons and are not feeling safe due to red-tagging.

Meanwhile, Regina Tolentino of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines called on her fellow student publications’ writers to “continue writing about the situation of our fellow students amid the ongoing pandemic and the failure of the Duterte’s administration to meet people’s demands.”

The protest on Tuesday was held following the recent petition signed by hundreds of ADMU students, who called for a mass student strike by withholding the submissions of any of their academic requirements “until the national government heeds the people’s demands for proper calamity aid and pandemic response.”

“We cannot prioritize our schoolwork when our countrymen are suffering unnecessarily at the hands of those in power. We assert that the Ateneo community must, at the moment, concentrate all efforts into helping the most vulnerable citizens of the Philippines, such as those in Cagayan, Isabela and the Bicol Region,” they said in the statement.

They added, “We strike in order to have the chance to be a person for and with others. We cannot sit idly by and do our modules, ignoring the fact the Philippine nation is in shambles. We sacrifice what we have (that is our access to education) for those who do not share privileges. We go down the hill to help and empower those in need, as we have been taught in our classes. We fight back against inhumane and unjust systems that favor the elite few over the lives of the many.”

On Tuesday afternoon, in a video statement posted on Facebook, Jb Bejarin, president of Sanggunian ng mga Mag-aaral ng mga Paaralang Loyola ng Ateneo de Manila, said the Central Assembly representatives will convene and conduct voting at 2 p.m.

This will be “according to all the consultations” the council “conducted including the data from the constituent survey.”

“The constituency check will also serve as the official avenue for all concerns regarding the revised petition,” the Sanggunian said in a Facebook post.