“Education under the Duterte administration has become more inaccessible to the youth.”
By SHEERAH ESCUDERO
MANILA – Hundreds of Filipino students joined the nationwide protests against tuition and other fee increases and the proposed mandatory military training, Feb. 28.
Students from University of the Philippines Diliman, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University, College of Saint Benilde, University of Santo Tomas and Far Eastern University staged protests inside their campuses before converging at the foot of Chino Roces (formerly Mendiola) bridge.
Raoul Manuel, national president of the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP), said, “Education under the Duterte administration has become more inaccessible to the youth.”
According NUSP, the top six most populous schools in the Philippines have proposed to hike tuition and other school fess by four to seven percent. These include the UST, DLSU-Manila, DLSU – College of Saint Benilde, FEU, St. Louis University – Baguio and University of San Carlos in Cebu City.
CHED has also been approving the fee increase applications of 200 to 400 private schools annually, according to NUSP.
Manuel said that the administration did not reverse but allowed the perpetual increases in school fees.
“Increasing tuition while keeping wages low is forcing thousands of students to drop out of school,” said Jeanne Miranda, Anakbayan deputy spokesperson.
Revival of mandatory ROTC
Students also slammed the bill on the revival of mandatory Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), which requires all senior high school and college students to go through a combination of military and non-military training inside school premises or inside the facilities of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police.
The League of Filipino Students (LFS) raised their concerns on the revamped mandatory ROTC through the Citizen Service Training Course (CSTC), which they described as nothing but a deceptive program that attempts to militarize schools.
“Replacing NSTP with CSTC is an outright bastardization of the students’ victory in junking ROTC. Renaming ROTC to CSTC will not erase the culture of violence promoted by the corrupt program,” said Kara Taggaoa, LFS spokesperson.
Taggaoa recalled the death of Mark Weslon Chua, a UST student who was killed in 2001. The incident sparked protests that led to the abolition of mandatory ROTC.
Diana David, Kabataan Partylist secretary general, said, “The integrity of mandatory ROTC is still in question due to multiple cases of corruption, assessment, and worst, killings.”