After a barrage of criticism from both young and veteran activists over her ‘go to the library instead’ comment, Commission on Human Rights (CHR) head Etta Rosales claimed on her Twitter account that she was misquoted.
In a TV interview last Sunday, Rosales said that this week’s ‘weeklong protests for the right to education’ would ‘muddle the essence’ of the commemoration of Martial Law on Friday, and instead told students to ‘go to the library’.
After her office was picketed by University of the Philippines students from Anakbayan and other groups, the former activists-now-government official was singing a different tune.
She claimed that her statement was in response to the question of whether there is a difference between the tuition and other fee increases under Marcos and the current administration.
The youth group Anakbayan, however, is not buying Rosales’ excuse.
“No matter which way you look at it, Etta’s excuse flats flat on its face” said Vencer Crisostomo, Anakbayan’s national chairperson.
“The tuition and other fee increases of today are the result of Noynoy’s continuation of the policies of yesterday. Etta has conveniently forgotten that Marcos’ Education Act of 1982 remains in existence today! If there is a difference between the situation then and now, it is only that it has gotten worse today” said the youth leader.
The 1982 Act gave school administrators the power to increase tuition rates without asking for permission from the government, unlike in previous decades. Under Aquino, proposed bills such as one imposing a three-year freeze on tuition fees, and another removing the mandatory allocation of funds for foreign debt servicing, have been blocked by Noynoy’s allies.
Crisostomo also pointed out that despite boasts of a larger budget for State Universities next year, most of these are ‘conditional’ upon the following: imposition of tuition increases in 10 schools by 2014, and scrapping of courses which are not ‘marketable globally’.