March 26, 2010
Kabataan Partylist Representative Raymond ‘Mong’ Palatino today said that the robbery case filed against five students of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) is a clear form of harassment by the PUP administration.
Palatino particularly questioned the ‘necessity and fairness’ of filing a criminal offense against students ‘who were merely practicing their academic freedom and freedom of expression.’
The youth solon said that he feared that the robbery case, with a bail set for 100 thousand pesos per respondent, might be the PUP administration’s way of ‘getting back at the students for successfully putting a stop to the 1,700 percent proposed tuition hike in PUP.
Earlier, both the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Malacanang and PUP President Dante Guevarra relented to daily student protests and announced that no tuition hike will be imposed on students this coming enrollment.
The so-called ‘PUP5’, namely, Cheysser Soriano (PUP Central Student Council chairperson-elect), Judy Anne Fabito and Pi Em Canela (League of Filipino Students-PUP chapter members), Fennin Louise Umagat (College of Languages and Lingustics Vice President) and Abriel Mansilungan (Kabataan Partylist-PUP member), were arrested by the Sta. Mesa Station 8 operatives last March 24, 2010.
They were leading students marching to the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Building in UP Diliman, Quezon City to protest the proposed tuition hike when they were blocked by the police for the alleged robbery of armchairs from the PUP campus.
“The students only wanted to show CHED the wretched situation of their campus as depicted by the dilapidated armchairs. No robbery took place. They should not have been arrested in the first place, they were willing to leave the armchairs,” Palatino said.
The PUP5 have been detained since Wednesday night, way past the 36-hour deadline for the release of information on their case.
“Technically, the MPD is holding them under arbitrary detention already. They should have been released yesterday at noon,” Palatino said.
The youth solon said that Manila Police District Gen. Magtibay had been initially willing to release the students but he said that “there is pressure from the complainants (PUP administration) to further hold them in detention.”
Palatino said that the parents of the students are also set to file an arbitrary detention case before the Commission on Higher Educaiton (CHR) on Monday, March 29.
On Monday, students from PUP and other schools, parents, PUP alumni and supporters are set to gather in a rally thanking Iskolars ng Bayan for stopping the tuition hike and calling for the immediate release of the PUP5.
Kabataan Party-list Rep. Mong Palatino
Gerg Anrol Cahiles, Media Officer