Students protest ‘darker days’ under Aquino

K to 12 program, strengthening labor export policy

Youth groups also criticized the implementation of the K to 12 program, the flagship program of the Aquino administration. Kayumanngi Garduce, Anakbayan high school, said adding two years in high school is a burden.

“We have to spend at least P12,000 (P279) a year for snacks, projects and transportation, among others while our parent’s minimum wage is only P446 ($10) a day. How can we survive another two years of high school?”

He added that K to 12 program only creates an illusion that after graduating high school there is a job waiting for students abroad.

“It is not for the interest of the students why the K to 12 is being implemented but for the sake of the needs of corporations,” Mark Louie Aquino, second nominee of Kabataan Party-list said.

He added, “Aquino wants us to believe its rhetoric that this is the miracle pill for our country’s problem of chronic joblessness when what it would really do is just turn our schools into factories of semi-skilled workers who will be part of the growing number of low-wage earners. Not to mention the additional financial burden it would give to the parents already struggling to keep their kids at school.”

Student repression

While students fight for their right to education, the administration of schools intensifies campus repression. In Camarines Sur Polytechnic College, students who protested and called on the school administration for additional class rooms were charged with grave misconduct.

Issa Puruganan, student of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Muntinlupa (PLMun) and associate editor of The Warden, official school publication of the PLMun and also a member of Anakbayan was harassed by suspected state agents.

Last summer, two unknown men in a motorcycle went to Puruganan’s house asking her whereabouts. “My mother texted me that two men came to our house asking if I still go home. Then the next day, about 1 a.m. bystanders near our home also told me that the two men were asking our neighbors about my whereabouts. The same day at 2 p.m. they came again; I was in the house and my mother was the one who faced them,” Puruganan told She suspects that her involvement in the progressive youth group Anakbayan is the reason for the surveillance she experiences.

Campus press freedom is also under attack. Romina Astodilo, chairwoman of College Editors Guild of the Philippines – National Capital Region cited cases of campus publications that were closed down and writers charged with libel cases.

The Monthly Quest, official school publication of the Quezon City Polytechnic University (QCPU) was closed down by the school administration. The whole editorial staff of the publication was terminated because it refused to put the school’s advertisement in the publication. “While campus journalists write about the truth, the school administration, on the other hand, wants a publication that will promote commercialized education. And by refusing to be a mouthpiece of the school administration, they attack the editorial board. This is a clear violation of freedom of expression,” Astodilo said.

University of the East’s official publication The Dawn was closed down due to the administration’s withholding of funds. After publishing an editorial cartoon criticizing the administration’s non-remittance of the publication funds, the school administration stopped collecting publication fees resulting in the stoppage of the Dawn’s operation. Eight staff writers were also charged with libel because of the controversial lampoon issue published last November 9, 2011.

‘Aquino’s student program, a road to nowhere’

“Clearly, Aquino is on a road to nowhere. Students have been trying to steer him and his administration toward the right path but he seems dead set on where he’s going. However, we refuse to be taken down a dead end road,” Baguisi said.

The youth groups vow to have a bigger mobilization of students during Aquino’s third Sona on July 23.

“We take to the streets now to take back our right to education –education that is relevant to the people and accessible to all,” Baguisi said.

Vencer Crisostomo, first nominee of Kabataan Party-list said the youth sector is not the priority of the Aquino regime. “This is the real state of the nation. We, the youth will stand to the call of our time. By next week, the youth from universities, communities and even high schools will launch protests condemning the inability of the Aquino regime to give long-term solutions to the needs of the people.” (

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