February 24, 2011
Students of the University of the Philippines-Diliman, led by the militant youth group Anakbayan, wore black today to mourn what they called ‘the death of the real spirit of EDSA’ a day before the 25th anniversary of the first People Power uprising.
According to the protesting students, the official rites commemorating EDSA 1 felt ‘hollow’ with the ‘depressing’ current situation faced by many youths nationwide.
“Back in high school, we were always taught about the important things that those present in EDSA 1 fought for. But whenever we turn on the news this year, we always find ourselves asking ‘Is that what our parents fought for?’” said Anakbayan chairperson Vencer Crisostomo.
“The jubilant mood brought about by last year’s successful anti-budget cut strike has been eaten away by the seemingly endless parade of price and fare hikes” said the youth leader.
Tens of thousands of students nationwide, including students from all of UP’s campuses, went on strike against a P1.39 billion slash (the biggest in its history) and its possible repercussions such as a proposed tuition hike to P100,000 per semester per student.
For many UP students however, the various price and fare hikes have forced them to tighten their belts even more. The two intra-campus jeep routes, which conveniently service various sections of the Diliman campus, have increased their fares by P1.00 in the face of eight oil price hikes in eleven straight weeks. The two train lines which also directly service Diliman, the MRT and LRT-2, are set to raise their fares by as much as 100% on March 16.
However, the mood of the UP students was not entirely bleak.
“Seeing how the promise of ‘People Power’ in the Philippines did not match up to the reality, many of us have been eagerly looking for a new example to emulate” said Crisostomo.
According to the Anakbayan leader, many of them have closely followed the successful uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, as well as the protests in other Middle Eastern and North African countries.
“We have many things in common: high prices of commodities, lack of opportunities for the youths, and a seemingly uncaring government” he noted.
“Aquino should take read the writing on the wall: it wouldn’t take much for him to become the Pinoy Mubarak” warned Crisostomo, in reference to Egypt’s ousted former leader.