MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte's threat to delist state university students who walk out of their classes to hold protests is not a violation of the freedoms of expression and assembly, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Saturday.
"Hindi pinagbabawal ang malayang pananalita, hindi pinagbabawal ang mga rally. Ang pinagbabawal lang ng Presidente ay 'yung mga walk out dahil sayang naman 'yung kaban ng bayan na binabayad ng mga ordinaryong mamamayan," Roque said in a press conference in Ilocos Norte.
On Thursday, Duterte warned students from state-funded University of the Philippines that their enrollment slots would be given to "bright Lumads" if they continue to skip classes to protest against his administration's policies.
The President issued the warning after UP students joined the National Day of Walkout and Protest for Democracy on Thursday, assailing the administration's supposed assault on democratic institutions.
Roque, a long-time professor at the UP College of Law, noted that this is the first year that the government is subsidizing tuition of all students enrolled in state colleges and universities after Duterte signed the free tuition bill into law in 2017.
Previously, state tertiary schools offered subsidized tuition rates.
"Kung gusto nila mag-walk out, karapatan nila yan. (Pero) 'wag naman nating sayangin 'yung pera ng sambayanan na ginugol natin para sa free tuition," Roque said.