Anakbayan extends its deepest sympathies to the family, friends, and classmates of the UP Manila student who committed suicide earlier today due to tuition payment difficulties.
We are more than grief-stricken, we are enraged. This was a death that could have been avoided.
Initial reports indicate that the student, a first year Behavioral Sciences major, killed herself after being forced to take a leave of absence (LOA) for the 2nd semester in line with the ‘Forced Leave of Absence’ (FLOA) policy of the said UP campus. In the said policy, students are made to take an LOA if they are unable to pay for the full amount of the tuition during the enrollment period.
According to the UP Manila Collegian, the student’s father is a part-time taxi driver, while her mother was a simple housewife. She was forced to take a leave of absence as her family cannot cope with the necessary finances to support her education. She was said to frequent the Office of Student Services for counselling services regarding her situation.
To paraphrase a quote from a famous movie: this is not a suicide, this is murder. The Aquino administration’s policy of commercialization and tuition hikes is as responsible for the death of the UP Manila student as if they were the ones who forced the poison down her throat.
The lack of programs by the Aquino administration to generate enough decent jobs in the country, coupled by its refusal to control the skyrocketing prices of basic goods and services, has made it virtually impossible for millions of Filipino parents to send their children to school. President Aquino’s declared policy of having State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) hike their tuition rates, and bludgeoning students into either paying said fees or dropping out (as in the case of UP Manila’s FLOA) is the last straw.
We in Anakbayan vow to give justice to the UPM student and the millions of other Filipino youths who continue to be victimized by the unjust social system and the callous and insensitive Aquino administration. We call on all our chapters in all University of the Philippines campuses to take the lead in massive protests until the anti-poor FLOA and STFAP policies are scrapped, and the tuition is rolled back.
We call on concerned students, faculty and administrators in UP to take the lead in calling for a BOR-level investigation, preventive suspension of the officials who foisted the FLOA on the victim, and the immediate termination of the FLOA policy. We call on UP to stop all tuition and fee hikes and junk the failure and deception that is STFAP.
We also call on all our chapters in SUCs to prepare for similar actions to stop the implementation of fake Socialized Tuition schemes in their own schools. Last week, the Polytechnic University of the Philippines’ Board of Regents approved various tuition hike schemes.
While none of our actions will bring her back, we vow that no other student will take his or her life because the State made it impossible for him/her to have a better future.
Justice for all victims of Aquino’s education policies!
Scrap STFAP! Rollback the tuition!
Defend our right to education!