Youth group Anakbayan is calling for protest actions against the Duterte government’s removal of free tuition funds for State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) in the 2018 budget and its refusal to implement a no-collection policy in the country’s 114 SUCs.

The group called on SUC students, faculty, and administrators to hold a month-long series of massive protests that will culminate in a nationwide walkout for free education on August 31. Students of the University of the Philippines have set August 8 as a “First Day Fight” protest in time for its first day of classes.

“In the backdrop of its allocation of additional funds for military spending and martial law, the war on drugs, and Chinese loan payments for massive infrastructure projects, this reflects the increasingly neoliberal and anti-people thrust of the US-Duterte regime,” said Anakbayan National Chairperson Vencer Crisostomo.

He decried the claims of Duterte’s economic managers that government cannot afford free education. “The P1 trillion ‘build build build’ budget and P900 million ‘oplan double barrel’ budget shows that Duterte values the interests of foreign lenders, big contractors, militarists and fascists over the Filipino people,” said Crisostomo.

The youth leader said NEDA Director General Ernesto Pernia’s statements unmasked Duterte’s populist electoral promises as a lie. “Hindi lang ito pampalubag loob o bigay bawi, pinakita lamang nito na isang malaking panloloko ang free tuition policy ni Duterte,” said Crisostomo.

He said Pernia’s statement that the free tuition policy is an “attack on private schools” exposes the real reason for removing it in the 2018 budget. “It has nothing to do with the lack of budget but the defense of private profits,” said Crisostomo.

Anakbayan is also calling on congressmen and senators to ensure that funds are allotted in the General Appropriations Act to cover free tuition and other fees. The group also called on them to continue to push for free tuition and a no-collection policy for SUCs.

 

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