MANILA - Students of the University of the Philippines (UP) on Friday staged a mass walkout to protest the policies of President Rodrigo Duterte such as the war on drugs, the proposed shift to federalism, martial law in Mindanao, the issue of press freedom, jeepney phaseout, the tax reform law.
The steps of Palma Hall were filled with student protesters, teachers, and even jeepney drivers and vendors during the event.
The protesters, including Fine Arts student Danielle Canales, said they were not threatened by Duterte's statement that slots for protesting students might as well be given to Lumad or indigenous peoples.
“Alam naman po natin na hindi po yun totoo kasi sa kanayunan pa lang pinapaalis na ang mga lumad para magbigay-daan sa mga mining industries,” Canales said.
Before the protest, a memorandum from UP Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan circulated via social media and in the UP community that encouraged students to participate in various activities, mainly in connection with the EDSA People Power anniversary, as part of their education.
Mon Sy, an instructor at the Department of English and Comparative Literature, joined his students during the walkout.
“What is the point of the university even. The point of the university is to develop critical thought, critical thinking,” Sy said.
Student groups and youth organizations such as Kabataan Partylist, STAND-UP and League of Filipinos Students also joined the protest.
According to STAND-UP Chairperson Almira Abril, the protest is aimed at putting an end to various problems that directly affect the masses, not just the UP community.
“Tayo ay nagra-rally dahil harap-harapan nating nakikita ang pag-balewala sa ating karapatan, ang karapatan ng sambayanang Piilipino,” Abril said.
Aside from the UP Diliman walk-out, the students said similar protests were also held in various UP campuses around the country.
The UP students will also join other protesters from other universities such as UST, UE, PUP, in a bigger rally in Mendiola.