“National government officials must act now or step down from their positions. No compromises.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – Students from top Philippine universities initiated strikes to suspend online classes, mobilize for sustained relief efforts for the victims of typhoon Ulysses, and “hold President Rodrigo Duterte accountable for his negligence” in handling the crises amid the COVID-19 pandemic and disasters in the country.
Students of the Ateneo de Manila University declared that they would “withhold the submission of any school requirements starting Nov. 18 until the government heeds the people’s demands for proper calamity aid and pandemic response.”
“National government officials must act now or step down from their positions. No compromises,” according to a statement signed by 500 students.
The signatories asserted that things cannot continue “business as usual” especially with the current situation of Filipinos devastated by the onslaught of three consecutive typhoons.
“We cannot prioritize our schoolwork when our countrymen are suffering unnecessarily at the hands of those in power,” they said.
They enjoined the Ateneo community to concentrate its efforts in helping families in Cagayan, Isabela, and the Bicol Region which were heavily affected.
Various student organizations in the De La Salle University System launched a petition for a system-wide academic break for two weeks.
They said that students, professors, and school employees should “be afforded their right to recover amidst these devastating crises through a system-wide academic break.”
They called for the suspension of both synchronous and asynchronous online classes with no graded requirements and the postponement of university activities, especially the collection of tuition and other fees. They maintained that professors and school employees should still receive their salaries and wages during the two-week academic break.
“We firmly believe that our national solidarity must be at its strongest now more than ever, as state negligence continues to endanger our family, our friends, our students, and our countrymen. To continue synchronous classes while the current state of our nation is in immediate and continuous crisis is a shame, as millions of students are left behind due to the tragedy that is both the super typhoon and the government’s neglect,” the DLSU unity statement read.
They also petitioned the DLSU-Manila administration to postpone the online undergraduate pre-enlistment scheduled on Nov. 16-20.
The Adamson University Student Government also called for the suspension of classes from Nov. 16-21 and an extension of deadlines for the following week for affected Adamsonians.
“We believe that we cannot continue to search for excellence while we know that our fellow Adamsonians are in dire need of help and consideration,” the student council said in a statement.
‘End the semester’
Professors from the University of the Philippines-Diliman recommended that the semester should be concluded to help fellow Filipinos devastated by the typhoons. They emphasized that the Duterte administration should be held accountable.
Congress of Teachers/Educators for Nationalism and Democracy (CONTEND) called on their colleagues, students, academic staff, and workers in the university to join the mass strike and direct their efforts “toward a sustained humanitarian response to the pleas of typhoon victims.”
“We invite the UP community to join us in serving devastated communities near and far. We call on them to also take a stand for the good of the people: Oust Duterte, end his fascist rule,” the group said in a statement.
Gerardo Lanuza of CONTEND said the call to end the semester is necessary, especially for those who are severely affected by the typhoon.
“How can you hold a class if their houses were washed away by flood? There is no electricity or connectivity,” he said during a press conference in UP Diliman on Monday, Nov. 16. He said that an academic break is not enough because it is impossible to continue with online classes in the aftermath of the typhoon. He added that many of his students are from Rizal.
Grace Concepcion of the All UP Academic Employees Union said that professors are also affected by the typhoon, with some having problems with connectivity. She added that the call to end the semester is not an abdication from their duties to teach, that they are helping those in need, and at the same time calling for government accountability.