UP Visayas brings activist voice in woke cheering-competition routine

Bianca Dava, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 20 2019 12:44 AM | Updated as of Oct 20 2019 04:38 PM

Students from the University of the Philippines Visayas in Miagao town and Iloilo City in Iloilo tackled political and social issues through their annual cheering competition on Wednesday, October 16.

The performance of the Skimmers, the academic organization of students taking up Communication and Media Studies, and Literature, bested 10 other performances from other academic organizations.

The group’s performance highlighted national issues, such as the government’s call for mandatory Reserved Officers Training Corps (ROTC), the Rice Tariffication Law, and the Commission on Higher Education memorandum order removing Filipino, Panitikan and the Philippine Constitution as core subjects in college.

Skimmers also pointed out issues related to the West Philippine Sea, the SOGIE bill, divorce bill, and media oppression in the country.

An 18-minute video of the Skimmers’ performance was uploaded on social media and became viral as certain pages singled out a line in the cheer condemning the Duterte administration’s failure to stand up to China on the issue of the West Philippine Sea.

This has made Skimmers and its cheerers a target of threats and harassment by members of these pages, going as far as publicizing personal information of the Skimmers’ adviser and governor.

In a statement, the UPV University Student Council, along with Local College Councils and other student organizations in UPV, “condemned the blatant acts of doxxing and harassment targeting members of the Skimmers academic organization.”

“The attacks intensified when Mocha Uson herself shared a snippet of the Skimmers’ cheer on her personal blog, with the caption ‘Let’s kill the President daw? Yan na ba talaga ang tinuturo nila sa University of the Philippines ngayon?’ The post in question has over 321,000 views and 2,000 shares at the time of writing, which has inspired Duterte supporters to send video threats to several Skimmers cheerers, post their photos without consent (which is a clear violation of the Data Privacy Act), and redtag the University along with its University Student Council,” the statement read.

“With the increased instances of redtagging by this oppressive state whenever the University raises awareness and action on societal issues, we will not and will never tolerate any kind of harassment or unjust behavior towards our constituents, whether we are facing a single troll or the whole Duterte administration. We won’t let this go unanswered. We are one with Skimmers. We are #OneUPV,” the statement added.

Pagbutlak, the official student publication of the UPV College of Arts and Sciences, also condemned the attacks on Skimmers.

“For the Skimmers' cheers revolved around the dire state of media and flow of information under the Duterte regime, the group underscored the urgent call for freedom of the press. Mindless red-tagging is the instinctual response of the Duterte's defenders. This was complemented by a minion of online trolls with the aim to bamboozle and to silence the oppositions. The virtual prattles of these trolls are cacophonous and self-serving. Yet their harassments (sic) are also seriously life-threatening,” Pagbutlak said in a statement.

The group added: “With these nasty harassments (sic) , we in Pagbutlak vehemently condemn the handiwork of the regime's minions. Such handiwork seriously threatens established freedom of expression and right to speech of citizens under our Constitution.”

As of this writing, the video of Skimmers’ performance has gained over 72,000 views on Youtube.

The hashtags #HandsOffSkimmers and #HandsOffUPV also went trending on social media.

For years, the cheering competition has served as a venue for UPV students in conveying their sentiments and grievances on various issues from the university administration level all the way to national and global scales through creative cheers and yells.

Courtesy of Ruperto Quitag