By JOHN AARON MARK MACARAEG
MANILA – Students from different universities across the county staged a walkout, Aug. 20 with the call, “Duterte, AFP-PNP [Armed Forces of the Philippines-Philippine National Police], No Entry!”
University of the Philippines (UP) in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao participated in the National Day of Walkout and Action. In Diliman, students and faculty members gathered at the Palma Hall, locking the entrance to symbolize that state security forces are not welcome in the university.
The simultaneous protest actions were their answer to Senator Ronaldo “Bato” Dela Rosa’s insistence to allow state forces in schools purportedly “to offer parallel indoctrination to counter the indoctrination by the communists.”
Student groups countered that the military presence of school threatens academic freedom and safety of the students. UP Student Regent John Isaac Punzalan likened campus militarization to martial law and urged the UP community to oppose police or military intrusion.
UP’s nationwide walkout was not only participated in by students but it was also supported by UP Chancellor Michael Tan and professors.
UP students stood firm that no one among them has been “brainwashed. ”
Rog Evangelio, a Philippine Studies student, said, “We have every right to express our dissent to the government especially to its military forces who are notorious for violating human rights.”
Evangelio cited the militarization in Lumad communities, closure of Lumad schools in Mindanao as well as the anti-drug operations that have resulted in the deaths of youth and children.
In a speech at Liwasang Bonifacio, Alicia Lucena, a member of Anakbayan, disputed dela Rosa’s claim that she was abducted by her colleagues. “Walang mali sa paglaban. May mali kaya tayo lumalaban,” Lucena said.
Students from other universities in Metro Manila later joined other progressive organizations in Mendiola and marched to Liwasang Bonifacio in Manila to condemn the killings and heightening repression under Duterte administration.
In UP Baguio, students formed a human barricade as a symbolic action to guard their campus from the threat of militarization.