UP Manila student kills self over tuition woes

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 15 2013 05:22 PM | Updated as of Mar 16 2013 04:54 AM

MANILA (1st UPDATE) -- A 16-year-old first year Behavioral Sciences student of University of the Philippines (UP) Manila committed suicide before dawn on Friday, the student's program adviser confirmed.

According to reports from the Philippine Collegian and Manila Collegian, the student committed suicide inside her home in Tondo, Manila at around 3 a.m. Friday, two days after she filed for a leave of absence (LOA).

Professor Andrea Bautista Martinez of the Department of Behavioral Sciences said the student, who frequently visited the Office of Student Services for counselling services, was forced to take a LOA because her family could not afford to pay her tuition.

The student was the eldest of five children. Her father is a taxi driver and her mother a housewife.

The Manila Collegian quoted Martinez as saying: “Malaki talaga ang impact sa buhay niya ang LOA kasi pati pamilya niya naapektuhan. Since February, hindi na siya pumapasok. Lagi siyang nagtetext sa’kin na hindi niya kinakaya ang problema."

The student was assigned in Bracket D of the Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP) which meant she had to pay P300 per unit or around P7,500 per semester with 18 units, including miscellaneous fees.

Martinez said the student had filed for re-bracketing but the results of her appeal would not have taken effect until the next academic year.

The student's request for a tuition loan was also denied by the UP Manila loan board.

“Since the STFAP has been revised, lalong nag-increase ang tuition ng UP. Every student should be able to study in UP regardless of their financial situation. The UP administration should not deprive them of their right to education,”  Martinez said.

The Philippine Collegian report said that in November 2012, the UP Manila administration barred students who failed to pay tuition on time from being admitted to their classes.

After a dialogue with school officials, students were eventually allowed to attend their classes, but some were forced to file for LOA, according to reports from the Office of the Student Regent.

The student's remains lie in Metropolitan Medical Center and were set to transferred to a funeral house in Abad Santos on Friday afternoon.

UP Manila deeply saddened

Meanwhile, UP Manila (UPM) said in a statement that it is deeply saddened by the passing of the student.

"The UPM community members condole and sympathize with the family who lost a young and promising daughter," the statement reads.

"As we continue the pursuit of excellence and relevance in our programs and services, we commemorate [her] life as a student even for just a short time and always remember her desire to be a good student and daughter," it says. 

The university also said it is extending financial assistance to the student's family.

Officials of UP Manila also clarified that the request of the student's father for his daughter to be enrolled and to apply for another loan in January was not granted since it was already mid-semester.

"UP Manila officials would like to clarify that for students who are not officially enrolled in the current semester, they are considered on [absent without leave] unless they file for a leave of absence," the statement read.