A federation of teachers on Tuesday backed the string of students-led strikes in major universities in Manila to protest against the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and recent typhoons.
In a statement, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines echoed the students’ demand for state accountability. It also asked for “the immediate prioritization of relief provision for victims of recent calamities.”
“The government’s lack of adequate response to the recent calamities only compounded the suffering of an already spent and beaten people amid the health and economic crises. Hence, the clamor for urgent action and accountability is only reasonable,” ACT secretary Raymond Basilio said.
The teachers’ group is also responding to the wave of student protests online that call on their respective universities and colleges to announce an academic freeze in support of other students who can no longer keep up with the demands of distance learning.
The Ateneo de Manila University started the academic strike online last week, criticizing the government’s inaction during disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The students said they plan to stop submitting school requirements starting today (November 18) until the national government “heeds the people’s demands for proper calamity aid and pandemic response.”
Students from the De La Salle University in Manila and the University of Santo Tomas made the same call, with both schools agreeing to suspend at least one week of classes to give students time to attend to their advocacies.
ACT backs both the goals of the academic strike. Their statement said that the strikes’ objective of unloading the students who were directly hit by the recent typhoons or wish to participate in the relief efforts is warranted.
“[The cancellation of online classes] will offer direly needed lessons, skills, and values to the youth who are vital agents of change and progress, while significantly augmenting support initiatives for the victims,” it said.
ACT laid down their demands. First, it wants the national government to carry out a relief and rehabilitation program for the regions affected by the recent typhoons, as well as to attend to the most urgent needs of the people.
The group called for a P50,000 reparation per family for damage to life and property because of the government’s criminal negligence, independent investigation on the lack of preparedness and urgency, and revocation of the permits issued to quarrying and logging companies.
ACT said that the Magat dam administration should be liable for the loss of lives and damage to properties. The government, it added, should put on hold all dam projects.
Finally, the teachers’ group wants to ensure sufficient funding for Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) and initiatives like Project Noah, as well as to re-channel the budget allocation for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) to disaster response.