MANILA - Students from the University of the Philippines (UP) are expected to stage a walkout next Tuesday, Aug. 20, to oppose police and military presence in schools.
In a memorandum dated Aug. 14, the Office of Student Regent declared Aug. 20 as the "UP Day of Walkout and Action" to assert students’ “right to academic freedom to organize, and to protest.”
The declaration came following a Senate hearing, where proposals to revive the Anti-Subversion Law and other methods to curtail recruitment of the NPA in schools were raised.
“This memorandum summarizes how alarmed the UP students, faculty members, and officials are by the proposals given by the military because for us it will affect the way we conduct our classes, our organizations and ultimately our academic freedom inside the university," said Student Regent John Isaac Punzalan in a statement.
Punzalan emphasized there is nothing new with the police and miltary’s assertion that state universities have become recruitment grounds of the communist group.
“...Ito (Anti-Subversion Law) po ay magdudulot ng malawakang surveillance and monitoring sa ating mga estudyante, organizations, faculty members, even UP Officials, lalong lalo na po dun sa mga vocal sa ating panawagan sa ating mga kritisismo sa current administration.”
(This paves the way to widespread surveillance on students, organizations, faculty members, UP officials, especially those who are critical of the government.)
WHAT WILL HAPPEN ON AUG 20?
Punzalan says that around 11:30 a.m. on Aug. 20, demonstrations will begin at the Palma Hall steps, and will continue towards Mendiola and Liwasang Bonifacio.
They will also celebrate the National Day of Mourning for farmers killed in Negros.
Punzalan called on his fellow students and professors to join.
“Ang gusto rin po namin kasabay po ng pag walkout ng mga estudyante, pagtigil ng mga professors sa kanilang pagturo muna, ay nandun ang panawagan na ang ganitong klaseng sakripisyo na mag-allot ng ganitong oras ay para sa academic freedom..." Punzalan said.
(We hope professors will also suspend classes so students can join the protest. We need to do this for academic freedom.)
Punzalan said he hopes the crowd will reach up to 1,500 in UP Diliman alone.
The Philippine military backed calls for the revival of the Anti-Subversion Law, which seeks to criminalize membership in the Communist Party of the Philippines.
Sen. Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa, a former Philippine National Police chief, called on lawmakers to back the law's revival.