MANILA - Students and youth groups have reported alleged repressive acts by the administration of the state-run Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP), among them clamping down on student-led activities and shutting down the official student publication.
On Tuesday, The Catalyst, PUP's official student paper, said student leaders were forced out of the Gabriela Silang Building by the university police despite a dialogue with the student administration last week.
School officials also allegedly removed the student regent and evicted student organizations from their offices, according to social media posts.
But PUP president Emanuel de Guzman belied the allegations, saying that, for one, The Catalyst, is still up and running.
"I am being interviewed now by an editor of The Spectrum which is the official student publication of the Engineering (department) and I am not taking over anything," De Guzman told ANC.
"In fact, The Catalyst, the official student publication of PUP is still there, they’re holding office. And if they want to issue out, well issues of the Catalyst, then they can do so. There is no such thing as taking over. I don’t know where they’re getting that," he added.
The PUP administration has recently revived the Student Publication Office with the goal of enhancing the selection of writers for the school paper.
But Anakbayan-PUP decried the move, saying it is not the school's job to "make poetry, 'investigative pieces' and ensure the 'essence of the paper'."
In a statement, the youth activists said the administration's move seemed aimed at turning the school paper into its "mouthpiece."
"The administration's job is not to interfere, [but to] respect the independence of the publication, respect the editorial prerogative of the students and stop trying to turn it into an administration mouthpiece," the statement read.
De Guzman also denied that PUP student regent Karl Paulie Anareta was removed, saying he was no longer enrolled and hence no longer qualified to hold the post. Elijah San Fernando was installed in his stead.
"Because he’s (Anareta) not enrolled. The law says once the regent is not anymore a student, then he or she loses status," he said.
"So the Board resolved that the votes of the members of the federation, who are the presidents of councils in PUP, must be respected. In view of the fact that the incumbent student is not enrolled, so the Board unanimously decided to recognize the regency of the newly-elected," he added.
Anakbayan-PUP said the new regent was elected after the administration called on student council presidents to "hurriedly convene" over the weekend for fresh elections.
"The bogus assembly presided by a non-student proceeded to elect Elijah San Fernando, despite the fact that he is not qualified to be elected as regent because he is not a duly-elected president of any student council," it said.
The Catalyst on Sunday reported that the convention proceeded even when student councils insisted that it was "bogus."
BUILDING VACATED FOR RENOVATION
De Guzman meanwhile admitted that he ordered the Unyon ng Mag-aaral Building to be vacated more than six months ago for renovation.
"I issued a memo that, for a while, the building is going to be rehabilitated and, therefore, they have to vacate it. But of course there’s a process of them going back to their old places. There is an accreditation for that. And now the building is open. They can now submit their applications for occupying the offices," he said.
The students' allegations, De Guzman said, had stemmed from his order to evict those who have been illegally occupying the building for the past six months.
"They are using the building as their private abode, bringing senior high school students, female students, and a number of parents wrote to me complaining that their children were not anymore going home," he said.
De Guzman said the students did not want to talk with the administration. He denied that policemen were deployed inside the university.
"Apparently, they don’t want to do a dialogue with the administration because they are hell-bent on accusing the admin…Like for instance, they alleged that there are truckloads of policemen being deployed in the university," he said.
"Not a single policeman is in the university. And I have not called on the police ever since the episode happened. I don’t know where these allegations are coming from but certainly not one of them is true," he added.