A total of 221 Filipino professors, academics, and education workers from various universities here and abroad signed a unity statement to call for an end to President Duterte’s “misrule.”
The unity statement of the academic sector was released on Thursday, July 22 – days before Duterte’s final state of the nation address (SONA) on July 26.
Initiated by the Academics Unite for Democracy and Human Rights, the statement – which continues to gather signatories – was signed by faculty members and staff from public and private universities and colleges all over the Philippines.
Most of the signatories were from the different campuses of University of the Philippines (UP) and Ateneo, De La Salle University (DLSU), University of Santo Tomas (UST), Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP), Far Eastern University (FEU), Adamson University, Colegio de San Juan de Letran, Saint Mary’s University, Batangas State University, Kalayaan College, Don Bosco Technical College, Visayas State University, Arellano University, Trinity University of Asia, Arellano, University of San Carlos, Davao Medical School Foundation, Bulacan State University, and ABADA College – among others.
Academics from international education institutions like Nagoya University, California State University, University of Melbourne, Interagency Academy, LaGuardia Community College Osaka University, and Bronx Community College were also among the signatories.
Academics Unite for Democracy and Human Rights lead convenor Dr. Ramon Guillermo said that the Filipino people have “suffered enough under this incompetent, criminally negligent, traitorous, and murderous” Duterte regime.
“We cannot allow this to continue any further, especially not for another six years,” Guillermo said. “So today, the academic community is adding its voice to the people’s call for an end to Duterte’s misrule,” he added.
Grave crisis in education sector
The group also slammed Duterte for putting the education sector in “grave crisis.”
Under his rule, the group alleged that “hundreds of schools are going bankrupt” while “enrolment rates are going down as students are forced to skip the school year due to financial and other reasons.”
Academics Unite for Democracy and Human Rights also criticized the “rushed and ill-prepared transition” of the Department of Education (DepEd) to online learning – which, according to the group, is “taking a heavy toll” on teachers and students alike.
“Scarcely any support from the government has been forthcoming in terms of much-needed equipment, learning resources, and connectivity,” the group said in the unity statement.
“In the midst of the pandemic, it is more difficult than ever for teachers to make ends meet with their meager salaries and benefits. In the end, Duterte’s promise to increase their salaries has become a hollow promise,” it added.
The group also alleged that since Duterte came to power, the schools of Lumad children have “faced violent attacks aimed at crushing their will to fight” in defense of their right to education and their ancestral lands.
“The Lumad are among the most impoverished, oppressed, and marginalized sectors in Philippine society,” the group said. “Under Duterte they daily face trumped-up charges, imprisonment, assassination, and other forms of repression,” it added.
Aside from the grave education crisis due to poor state support, the group also criticized the Duterte administration’s “militaristic approach” to the health crisis – among other issues – that “threaten and attack the country’s fragile democracy.”
The group also expressed strong opposition to Duterte’s plan to run for Vice President with his daughter, Sara, for President. “We cannot allow this if we stand for human rights and the defense of Philippine sovereignty,” the group added.
Meanwhile, Guillermo noted that that academics will also join the “Hatol ng Bayan” protest on Duterte’s last SONA.