Gov’t launches wave of attacks vs democratic rights

  • Student regent removed, replaced by admin-appointed representative
  • Admin closed down student offices and tambayans; took over campus publications
  • Student council elections suspended
  • New fees, mandatory uniform implemented
  • Police forces deployed in campus

Student activism in Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) is under attack as the school administration under President Emmanuel De Guzman implements a wave of policies described by students as “tyrannical” and “Marcosian.”

Students from PUP, a known bastion of activism, led the recent youth protests vs the US-Duterte regime which called for an end to Martial Law and a stop to extrajudicial killings. Leaders suspect that they are being targeted by Malacanang, through the PUP administration in an attempt to frustrate the growing protests vs Duterte’s fascism.

Yesterday, the administration closed the Gabriela Silang Hall, a building intended for student activities. Student offices and tambayans in various colleges have been closed despite the opposition of various groups. Security officers have forcibly removed students from these offices. Activists have likewise been banned from campus.

“The campus security personnel nailed the doors of the student office shut, forcibly removed the students and threatened that they will be arrested and brought to the police if they try to assert their rights,” said Rejhon Modesto, president of Alyansa ng Nagkakaisang Konseho ng Polyteknikong Unibersidad ng Pilipinas (ANAK-PUP).

Attacking student institutions

The administration also removed duly-elected student representative to the board of regents Karl Paulie Anareta. A few weeks ago, Anareta was banned from attending a committee meeting and instead was replaced by admin-appointed student representative Elijah San Fernando. Last weekend, the PUP administration funded some student groups to convene a bogus student federation congress to pre-empt the congress being called by the ANAK-PUP executive committtee.

ANAK-PUP is the student body mandated to select the student regent in its congress. The administration is barred from intervening in the selection process.

In the admin-backed congress, in which only admin-supported parties were invited, San Fernando was “elected” despite not meeting qualifications. The next day, like a thief in the night, he was sworn in by the board as regents.

Previously, the PUP administration has also ordered the take-over of campus student publications through an administration office called Student Publication Section, which will control the funds, printing, distribution, administration and editorial policies of the newspapers.

The College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) have assailed this move as an attack on campus press freedom and democratic rights.

Student council elections scheduled this month have likewise been cancelled indefinitely.

“They want Anareta out because he represented the student opposition to the administration’s plans to implement new fees, mandatory uniform, and the takeover of student institutions. They are attacking student organizations to be able to implement corrupt fee collection schemes and policies,” said Modesto.

Anti-student policies

Student groups said the administration wants to continue fee collection schemes in campus despite the passage of free tertiary education policy.

“They have collected tuition fees and other school fees despite the prohibition. They collect dubious fees like energy fees, exam fees, and facility rental fees. The administration wants to implement a mandatory uniform policy for senior high students which will cost about P800 per set. They also want to implement mandatory drug testing ang ROTC. To implement these and other rackets, they attack student organizations opposing these,” he said.

Groups have previously assailed De Guzman and the PUP administration for engaging in anomalous contracts and keeping a slush fund of more than P300 million collected from students.

Malacanang dirty tricks

But more importantly, students say, the move is a desperate effort by to frustrate campus protests and terrorize students fighting the US-Duterte fascist regime.

Students note that last August, as multisectoral groups launched the Movement Against Tyranny, truckloads of anti-riot police were deployed in PUP in anticipation of mass protests. This was unusual, especially because no activity was being held in PUP at that time.

“We think Malacanang and their agents are behind these dirty tricks aimed at terrorizing Iskolars ng Bayan. They are terrified by the growing youth movement calling for an end to tyranny, dictatorship and fascist rule. If the Duterte minions think they can scare us, they are dead wrong,” he said.

PUP students are calling for big nationwide campus protests this week against repression and fascism.


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