Simultaneous mass actions nationwide were held by youth and student groups over yet another suicide by a college student who couldn’t afford tuition.
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – “Stop killing students and the youth,” cried protesters under the banner of the Rise for Education (R4E) Alliance, as they stormed the office of Commission on Higher Education (Ched) on Friday, March 6.
They denounced Ched and President Benigno S. Aquino III’s education policies “that protect not the welfare of the students, but the profiteering of school administrations.”
The day saw massive simultaneous protests by students in different campuses in the country over the commercialization of education.
The R4E Alliance submitted a manifesto of unity to Ched outlining their complaints against yearly tuition increases and “dubious and exorbitant other school fees” as well as cases of student democratic rights violations.
At noon, students from the University of the Philippines Diliman draped the Oblation statue in black cloth and held a protest activity denouncing the death of Rosanna Sanfuego https://www.bulatlat.com/2015/03/04/another-freshie-commits-suicide/.
UP Manila students also draped the Oblation statue in black cloth and lit candles, signifying their call for justice for Sanfuego and their schoolmate Kristel Tejada who also committed suicide on March 15, 2013 due to matriculation problems. Christopher Tejada, the father of Kristel, joined the activity.
In the afternoon, students from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines tied black ribbons around posts in their campus.
Students from private universities across the University Belt – including the University of the East, National Teachers College, University of Manila, and University of Santo Tomas – lit candles in front of UST to condemn the unrelenting increases in tuition and other school fees.
Regional youth formations also stormed the regional offices of Ched such as in Baguio and Cebu.
“In Baguio, complaints related to tuition and other school fees were filed in Ched against Saint Louis University, University of the Cordilleras and University of Baguio,” said Sarah Elago, R4E Alliance Convenor and national president of the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP). “In Cebu, students lodged complaints and held protest actions against tuition and other fees increases.”
In Davao City, students led by Anakbayan-Southern Mindanao Region also held a candle-lighting protest.
“We have lost too many dreams and young lives under the reign of the Aquino administration. We can’t let this government do anything worse. Aquino has to resign now!,” said League of Filipino Students national chairwoman Charisse Bañez.
She added that despite being enrolled in a state university, most students like Rosanna still can’t afford to continue their schooling because of other school fees. Rosanna’s death, she added, indicates the worst thing that could happen to the youth under Aquino’s profit-oriented education system.
The R4E said the high cost of education on both public and private universities and colleges is “violent and violative of the rights of students to free and quality education.”
Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon, in a March 7 statement, said the Ched should disapprove all tuition and other fee increase proposals for the next school year.
“The Filipino youth is again in mourning. The high cost of Philippine education has again taken another victim. It will be unconscionable for Ched to approve tuition and other fee hikes following this tragedy,” Ridon said.
On March 13, youth and student groups nationwide will once again hold protest action commemorating the second year death anniversary of Tejada.